It came without warning. The news.
It was not supposed to happen this way and definitely not at this moment. There were too many things left unsaid and unfinished. The reality of the message was too surreal for my brain to take in. The words once spoken could not be unheard and yet the realization of what it all meant seemed to come at me in waves. They still do even now, 3 weeks later.
In that instant it appeared that all the air had been vacuumed out of the room. I could not breathe nor could I comprehend the magnitude of the raw emotion that I felt. There were no words.
The phone had rung and all I heard her say was “your dad has passed.”
This can’t be right? There has been a mistake.
You see I was planning a trip to go and see him next weekend. We were going to plan our trip to England together. He was going to show me “his London”. I was supposed to go last year and the year before but I was too busy with work and my kids and my life to carve a week out to spend with him. I thought there would be more time. But there wasn’t.
The thing about time is that it seems to have a short shelf life and the supply never meets the demand.
My time with my dad had run out. There was no getting it back and that truth is as brutal as it gets.
I think I squandered my time. I wasted it on busyness. Not this weekend dad and not this time dad because we had that thing but we would definitely come to see you soon.
It feels lonely here now, knowing that he won’t be calling me 5 times a day to see how I’m doing. To ask the same questions over and over; and to hear him laugh and say that “his mind was going”, when I gently reminded him that we had spoken only a few hours ago. What would I give to hear him ask me these things just one more time?
Time. That’s what I’d give. My time.
Parenting is hard.
The problem is, kids do not come with how-to manuals. I did ask for one but the doctor just shook his head and laughed. I’m not talking about the myriad of books available on the subject of parenting, I mean a back to basic, A to Z, step by step, idiot proof guide like you get with a new blender or anything from Ikea; just a simple book of do’s and do not’s, that if executed properly, will result in the perfect Stepford child.
Actually, maybe Ikea is a bad example because I once had to put together a bookshelf I bought from there and after four days, one migraine and a rather nasty leg wound, that labyrinth of hell went straight back to the store. Turns out I may have been reading the instructions in Dutch.
Did you know that unlike Ikea, children don’t even have a return policy? I guess it’s just a ‘you bake it, you take it’ kind of deal. The hospital won’t even give you a receipt, just your baby and a bag full of welcome wagon coupons. Like fifty cents off of wet naps and a visit from the Tupperware lady gives you enough working knowledge on how to raise a child. Just try calling her at 3 AM for instructions on how to calm your colicky baby and I guarantee you will not be getting your free gift.
I think becoming a parent is hands down the most optimistic thing I have ever done. For me, having children, seemed like an appropriate next step in my life’s journey. Sure I got lost in Costco and couldn’t boil water without burning a pot but everyone else seemed to be doing it so why not give it a go? Looking back now, I am amazed at the level of narcotic free delusion I must have been experiencing. It’s logic like that, I am now convinced, must have preceded the invention of Fundies. It’s a thing; Google it.
Before I was a mother I couldn’t even keep a house plant alive. I tried but I kept forgetting to water it. Luckily, children will make a lot of noise if you forget to feed them for any significant length of time and my plants just never seemed to try that hard. So I guess even if they don’t come with instructions they do have the odd fail safe. They will cry if something is wrong, sadly they will also cry when nothing is wrong which can be a bit of a conundrum.
The good news is, that so far, even without any degrees, step by step instructions , expertise of any kind, or any discernable skillset, I have managed to keep all of them alive (with my husband’s help of course); wait let me just double check…yes all still alive and well. I think that it’s important to celebrate the little victories when parenting like this, and remembering to pick them up from soccer practice and maybe even getting their name right on the first try (not as easy as it sounds). It may not seem like MENSA material but when mixed with a lot of love it seems to be getting the job done.
It was nearly Christmas, almost nineteen years ago, that I was pregnant with my first little miracle. I was reminded of this not long ago, as friends of mine recently gave birth to their own bundle of joy. Well, to be specific, one of my friends did the birthing and the other one had the lesser role of “coach”. Not to say that his role was not significant, but let’s face it, it’s not as if reminding someone to breathe and running for ice chips is the same as pushing a baby out of your… well, you know.
My husband and I were pretty stupid about babies and giving birth. That’s kind of the reason I called her my first a miracle, given the fact that we put about as much thought into the entire process as we did deciding on what movie to go to. Probably less actually.
These days people are so focused and organized they have actual birth plans. I had always thought that plan was a forgone conclusion after conception. I am pregnant, so I plan on giving birth. No need to get a pen and paper for that little piece of obvious. These days, birth plans can be small novels, and often involve more contingencies than FEMA.
Did you know that someone actually wrote something called 12 steps to easy labour? The first one should have been adoption, but surprisingly, that wasn’t even on the list. Giving birth is ridiculously hard and incredibly painful. There is nothing easy about it and I am convinced that whoever wrote that bit of crazy is a misogynistic Nazi.
My first baby was seventeen days over-due. I was induced 7 different times to try and coax her from my fat, bloated belly to no avail. Finally, they decided to introduce me to a special kind of hell called pitocin, which was supposed to encourage the birthing process. It didn’t. It did, however, encourage me to discuss sterilization in one of my more lucid moments between excruciating contractions. The nurses kindly supplied me with laughing gas. I did not laugh.
I have yet to give my husband credit for his part in the birthing experience. I feel remiss in that, so I will say that he did, at one point during a very painful contraction, pat me on the arm and tell me to shush because I was making too much noise. If you didn’t believe in miracles, here’s one for you … he managed to escape that comment with all of his appendages intact.
It would seem that he could have used a birthing plan. I made him one for our subsequent children’s births. It’s called ‘What Not to Say to Your Wife While She is in Labour.’ For a copy, please send requests via email.
Finally, after 13 hours of hard (not that easy stuff) labour, the doctor stepped in, had a wee look, and decided that I was incapable of giving birth naturally. I could have told him that in my first trimester, about five minutes after I watched a natural birthing video.
It was then decided that they would carve me up like a Christmas goose and do a scoop and run. I may or may not be correctly remembering the exact language. You see, it was being described post epidural and at that point, they could have been planning to sell my body parts on the black market and I would have gladly signed the paperwork. I felt that good.
Can I just say, epidurals are God’s gift to pregnancy. I, for one, am very thankful and have referenced it on more than one occasion at a thanksgiving meal. An attitude of gratitude is the key to all life’s successes, big or small.
So after all the egregious things that I had suffered through, at exactly 10:33 pm one week prior to Christmas, I delivered the most perfect baby that had ever been created by my husband and I up until that point. My mother-in-law had requested that I wait an additional 1 hour and 27 minutes so she and my daughter could share the same birthday. She was escorted from the room before any harm could come to her.
Anyway, I thought I would share my birthing story at this time of year when we celebrate the most blessed birth of all. Oddly enough, those two didn’t seem to have much of a birth plan either and their child turned out kind of amazing. I’m talking about Mary and Joseph, not my friends Keilen and Ryan. Although I’m sure their little one will turn out quite super too.
Have you ever had an Oprah-esque (not sure that is a word….yet) moment when you can no longer reconcile your version of the truth with the cold hard slap in the face real life reflects back at you? It’s like waking up and realizing it is still Monday.
There you are just living your life and out of nowhere some sort of cosmic epiphany downloads to your brain which forces you to face or accept some new fact or reality. To which I always say, “Thank you real life for interrupting my regularly programmed and most enjoyable sense of contentment.”
I just would prefer to live in a softly lit bubble of fictional reality. Who wouldn’t? Truth for the most part is highly over-rated.
Sadly today, that bubble burst along with a pipe in our bathroom.
Yes folks, my home’s terrorist assault has continued and it has now begun to water board us; and by water boarding I mean rotting out my floor boards with a leaking pipe in our shower. The good news is we were able to discover the problem early when some dingy water drizzled on a friend of ours who had stopped by for a visit.
If I wasn’t before, I am now completely convinced our house is trying to break us or at the very least evict us. If my house was an animal I am certain I’d be advised to have it put down. I may have said that out loud last night…..do you think I caused this?
Regardless of who or what is responsible, we are now facing a demo and a rebuild. We considered hiring a professional to do the work, and then we just laughed and said why pay someone to do something that we can so effortlessly do ourselves? I mean how hard can it be? Some new pipe and a bit of soldering and Bob’s your uncle. Realistically, we should be able to knock this off in a day or two and be living the life of non-leakage in no time.
Now I know what you’re thinking, statistically speaking we haven’t had the best track record on home improvement projects; but practice makes perfect right? And we rarely make the same mistake three times. We make similar mistakes a lot but not the exact same ones, because that would make us complete idiots. I feel really good about this.
These are the things I’m telling myself to try and ward off the mother of all panic attack I sense is about to envelop me.
On a positive note we have decided to totally change the design of the bathroom. It was entirely too small; not even enough room to swing a cat. Not that I would, or have ever, swung a cat. (Please no letters). However, for arguments sake, I would assume that if ever the need did arise (to swing a cat) I would be unable to do so.
The new design will require us to bang out a couple of walls and re-plumb a few things….no big deal… just the toilet, sink and shower. This of course might add a day or two to the projected completion date but you know us… in for a penny, in for a pound.
I need brain Drano..I don’t know if there is such a thing but if there is I am going need to get some ASAP. Price is no object. Although it would be great if the potential side effects of the product did not list potential death and or rectal bleeding. Not necessarily going to be a deal breaker, but it would nice not to have the worry.
I am distracted and discombobulated all at the same time. I love that word. It’s just as much fun to write as it is to say. It reminds me of Mary Poppins and that song “Supercalifragilistic”; now that was a great movie. I’m going to see if I can get it on Netflix. That reminds me, I have to get some pictures printed from our Disney trip. Note to self; find memory stick.
See what just happened there? I can’t even focus my attention long enough to finish a thoug* ( ironic typo.) Who am I kidding with that ‘note to self’ comment? Lately my brain is like an etch-a -sketch every time I shake my head the last thought I had fades to grey. I never really embraced the etch-a-sketch as a child although I was fascinated by what Will Farrell drew with it in that movie Elf. I think I watch too much TV. Excuse me I have to go flip the laundry. I’ll be back in a minute. Although it’s just as likely I won’t. How will you even know? I could have started this last April and am just now returning; not obviously from doing the laundry but from doing other stuff.
Maybe that’s my problem. There is just way too much stuff to do all the time and my brain is now refusing to think new thoughts or even finish current ones. Maybe my brain is on strike? Although you’d think it would at least give me a set of demands if that were the case. Obviously its union rep is just going through the motions.
Brains are absolutely amazing though, aren’t they? No I’m not just sucking up to my brain in order to regain its cooperation. It’s true. Here are some fun brain facts.
Did you know you can’t tickle yourself because your brain can detect the difference between an unexpected external touch and your own?
The average brain thinks about 70,000 thoughts a day. No wonder mine is confused – I had no idea I was working it that hard. I am blonde though, so it’s entirely possible that number is a wee bit exaggerated.
Laughing at a joke is no small task either. It requires activity in five different parts of the brain. So if at any point while reading this, you had a giggle, you can knock five minutes off your workout. I’ll write you a note. You’re welcome.
Do you know approximately 4% of adults live with ADD and many others have never been diagnosed? You do now.
You know, I just realized something. I thought (one down 69,999 to go) maybe I was not going to have anything to write about this week. I was so distracted I couldn’t find the funny. Then just like a reprieve at the eleventh hour my brain checked back in long enough to finish my column. Let’s hope I didn’t have to give up anything too important in the strike settlement. It would be really awful if I forgot to remember to do something important like the laundry.
We humans are rather intriguing bundles of DNA aren’t we? I was thinking that thought just now. For the record I think on most days, except on Tuesdays between 8-9 PM for reasons which I will not disclose. How is it that we have managed to survive so long on this big blue marble of a planet without becoming extinct? I ask myself the hard questions sometimes and then I need to take a nap because it makes me sleepy.
But seriously, I’ve seen some people, and I’m not trying to be rude or disparaging in anyway, but there are those among us that probably should not be walking around unsupervised. I think we’ve all seen enough reality TV in the past few years that proves, with absolute certainty, that the laws of natural selection have become a wee bit lackadaisical. How do some of these people make it through the day without medical attention? Divine intervention?
I think it must be a combination of pure dumb luck and lawyers that has kept some of our brethren from dropping out of the gene pool. Instinct alone used to be enough but apparently some of us can’t rely solely on common sense anymore so we now employ people to think the big thoughts for us.
Who doesn’t remember the woman who sued McDonald’s for her coffee being too hot….and won? That, for me, was the beginning of the end of my hope for humanity. I can only imagine the shock and horror she must have felt when she made the connection that the white mist emanating from her cup was not the ghost of her dead cousin Marg.
I once saw a sign on a washing machine saying please do not use while person is inside? Now that’s just good information isn’t it? I’m sure there was somebody at least once who thought, “Hmmm …I need a bath and my clothes need a bath let’s kill two birds with one stone and call it a day.”
There is also a helpful warning sign on hair dryers to not use in the shower. Really? Is this completely necessary? I can only imagine what is going throughout that brain trusts mind (right before the obvious electrical current). “Why my hairs no dry? I be standing under all this water and it’s still be wet. This be broken?”
Don’t get me wrong I’m all for red lights, seat belts and the labeling of hazardous materials. It’s important to provide this kind of information so that we can anticipate potential threats to our person. I just think that our approach to sharing some of the more obvious dangers might be beyond the comprehension of their intended audience.
Perhaps dangerous products should come with video tutorials and worst case scenario simulations or maybe we should all just watch that show Jackass? Those guys could potentially inspire us all to some new evolutionary lows. Anyway it was just a thought I was thinking as I was using a fork to get my waffle un-stuck from the toaster this morning…note to self “next time unplug toaster first.” See how easy that was? Learn and live.
I have a feeling I am no longer cool. It is not yet official, but I have been informed by not one, but two of my children that my street cred is almost maxed out. Not sure if I can apply for additional credit, or what slippery slope I’d have to slide down to get it? Is street cred even a thing anymore?
The sad reality is I’m not sure how long I have been out of the loop; or if there is still even a loop to be out of?
I just found out that it’s not even cool to say “cool” anymore. Apparently “sick” is the new cool. Which is beyond confusing because being sick has never been something I have ever aspired to be. In fact, at the first sign of illness I usually start downing Echinacea like my life depended on it. Now I find out that I should have been embracing my “sickness” as though my reputation depended on it.
It’s not like I haven’t tried to stay current.
I listen to the latest jam (which I recently figured out is music and not a reference to a fruit preservative.) This has not been without sacrifice because listening to the repetitive nonsensical content that some popular artists spew onto the airwaves is tantamount to ear torture. Not to pick on anyone in particular but if losing my cool (aka sick) mom status means never having to hear Rhianna’s “Umbrella” ever again….it would almost be worth it. What the “Ella Ella” is she going on about anyway?
I used to have the language down. Sadly that too…”was so five minutes ago.” Actual words have now been replaced by acronyms; LOL, IDK, and OMG and of course the most banal of them all…. the letter “k”.
I have a sneaking suspicion the reason for this trend is the youth of today can no longer spell. Of course that’s just a working theory and when presented to a focus group of teenagers the idea did elicit some serious eye rolling. The good news is that they weren’t having a seizure just indicating a reticence to agree with my hypothesis.
Keeping abreast of the all the fashion fads has also been a bit of strain. I would dearly love to have a few minutes alone with the genius who came up with low rise jeans that showcased everything from tramp stamps to little Johnny’s boxer briefs. If only there were things that I could un-see.
The world is changing too fast, it’s all about emoticons, snap chats and selfies. There is even something called the vine which I was super excited about until my daughter pointed out it had nothing to do with the production of wine. I also don’t see the point of posting mindless status updates on Facebook. Do we really need to know what people are feeling and doing every second of the day? I myself prefer a little mystery.
I guess the truth of it is that I don’t want to be “sick” anymore. It’s exhausting and confusing. I’m okay letting it go. Not all of it of course, just the bits that grate on my nerves like white girls who sing along with gangster rap like it’s their personal truth. The fact is holding on to youth and youthful ideas are a bit like chasing a ghost. It seems like it might be fun because you’ve heard about it on twitter but when push comes to shove it is just way too scary.
I am famous for the five year plan that runs into a huge snag about five minutes after its conception. In truth, I am not much of planner at all. I consider myself more of a proactive reactor, which basically means that I lightly pencil things in and when that doesn’t happen, I just bounce. It’s been working so far and as I always say if it ain’t broke ….it ain’t mine.
So where am I going with this?
Recently, I was listening/eavesdropping to a conversation between two moms at the mall. One of the ladies was talking about her son who is twenty-two and will be graduating from university next year. She said he had a very firm plan for the next ten years. He would get a job, buy a house, get married and have at least two children by the time he turned thirty. She said all this with great pride and without even the tiniest bit of hesitation.
I thought of my own life and could not help but wonder if a life could actually be lived with such efficiency?
Not my life obviously.
You see, at twenty-two I had a plan too. Not quite that structured but I definitely had a few core ideas that I was going to run with. First off, I was never going to get married or have any kids. I was going to be a journalist and travel the world. I was going to be fluent in at least three languages and live with two cats. My life would never be boring, and I would be the envy of all….other cat ladies.
So let’s reflect on how that plan fleshed out.
I am married with four children. I do remember telling my husband I wanted four cats, which is usually man repellant, but we were in a loud bar at the time, so I guess he misheard me and thought I said kids? I speak one language and can swear in three others. I have never traveled the world but I have Google Earth so that’s sort of the same. I never wrote a big story but I can write a heck of a grocery list. I live with one cat and three cat/dogs. My life is definitely not boring so I guess that worked out but as for being the envy of all, I think I would say, that I am more of a cautionary tale.
So was there a defining moment where my life plan took a u turn and ended up in opposite land? Probably. Does it matter? Probably not.
You see, the one thing I can always plan on, is that any plan I make usually ends up resembling a Picasso painting version of the original idea. That’s okay though, as I have never been a destination kind of a girl. I am all about the detours and roadblocks and I firmly believe that any life worth living should always be under construction or deconstruction depending on the day…which sort of explains a few of my other posts.
Once again, my illusionary world, or as it is sometimes called, my delusionary world, just crashed into my reality like a bull in a china shop. I have always been a glass half full kind a girl but from time to time, I believe the universe likes to test my resolve. It starts out with small, seemingly insignificant blips and blunders that miraculously seem to manifest into mountains of mayhem in mere moments.
I believe I have now identified my mistake. I became overconfident, mildly complacent and even a tad bit content. The universe apparently decided that I was much more exciting and entertaining when I am none of those things. There also seems to be a bit of a reoccurring theme to my life over the past 12 months so it would appear that it (the universe) has a favorite genre.
So without further ado, I will begin my tale.
This morning I awoke to the death of yet another appliance. My refrigerator apparently decided to take its own life in the middle of the night. Sadly, it took a lot of our food with it; which is why I am calling this a murder suicide. I will probably never get over the carnage I discovered when I opened up my tub of Haagen Daz. It’s still too painful to talk about. I am crying as I write this.
I am loathed to admit I did not see it coming.
It showed no signs of depression. There were none of the usual red flags. I like to think that if I had known it was feeling down that I would have gotten it some help – called someone or arranged an intervention with some of the other appliances. I’m not saying they would have been able to intervene in a meaningful way, but maybe they could have talked it down off the ledge. If only it had stopped to consider the impact its death would have on my matching appliances and how a lack of this will inevitably impact my resell value.
Suicide is such a selfish act.
Miraculously we were able to replace it the same day. I know that might sound callous but we all grieve differently. Don’t judge me for moving on – applaud me for letting go.
Our new fridge is a beauty. It’s spacious, shiny and seems very well adjusted. At first I thought the others might not accept it as one of their own; but the stove gave it its leftovers from dinner tonight like they had been best friends since birth. I am not sure I have had a prouder moment.
We did hit a snag or three during the installation process which may or may not have led to the deconstruction of some solid oak railing, ceramic tile and the removal of some ill positioned cupboards.
I am not ready to discuss all that at this time as there is only so much one human can endure in a weekend and I maxed out on that with the murder of my caramel cone ice cream. I promise you, when I am stronger, I will over share all the repercussions of our latest failure to utilize a measuring tape.
I almost had to call an ambulance when I woke up this morning. Okay, I exaggerate … slightly. I do that sometimes.
Have you ever been so sore that you actually had to strategically plan how to get out of bed? You know, that minute when you wake up and your body screams in an ever so passive aggressive way, “Please just don’t move. I’m begging you. I have money; I will pay you to just stay still until whatever this is passes.”
Yeah, this morning that was me.
Every muscle took on a very vocal stance on movement of any kind. My legs were so done they started throwing my arms under the bus.
“Use them if you have to get up. They don’t know pain like we do. They basically do nothing. What exactly is their job, anyway? Waving and washing your hair? Please. We have been hauling your fat behind all over this planet for years while they just swing uselessly at your side all willy-nilly. It’s time they took on some real responsibility.”
My arms were like, “Easy for them to say, but we weren’t built for this kind of nonsense. You have basically ignored us your whole life and now out of the blue you decide to start using our muscles which have basically been dormant since the womb. How are we supposed to cope with the responsibility of real movement? It’s absurd.”
My stomach muscles which I always thought got a pretty good work out digesting all the delicious food I gave them were emitting the kind of sharp shooting pains which I can only liken to the early onset of acute appendicitis.
So I arose in stages. Calculated, controlled, tearful, ouch-filled stages. I may or may not have used several expletives by the time my core muscles had finally managed to move me into a seated position.
At this point I had begun planning my own funeral. Should I write an eulogy or leave that up to a loved one? What music should be played? Do I even have a favourite song that could be played in a church setting? Cremation or burial? Now my head was starting to hurt, and that was the one thing that had somehow managed to survive the recent terrorist activity that my body was waging on me.
Even with all these unanswerable questions, it seemed like dying still might be easier than figuring out how I was going to put my underwear on. However, I am a lot of things, but I’m not a quitter. Well okay, sometimes I am a giver upper, but that is totally different from a full on quitter. So I struggled, and I groaned, and finally, I managed to get myself moving in the general direction of living my life.
A good friend of mine once said to me, “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.” I would like to say that Weakness had better move out quick, leave no forwarding address and not expect to get its damage deposit back.
It’s week 3 of my workout challenge and I am almost convinced that I will probably survive the next 5 weeks. Regardless of the pain and necessary sacrifice I will soldier on. However in the event that I don’t, I would like Sarah McLaughlin to sing In the Arms of an Angel at my funeral, partly because it’s a lovely song, and partly because I don’t think in my current condition I’d ever get through the pearly gates on my own steam.