Tread Lightly and Carrie Underwood A Big Bat

I’m finally feeling like I’m getting back to myself. For over a year, I was hobbling around with a cane. Existing with pain. Having to measure distances for walking and wondering if I would make it to my destination without ending up on a random sidewalk clamouring around on my hands and knees, destitute and begging for help. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  

The day I was able to ditch my cane and walk unaided felt like a triumphant return from the abyss of dependence into which I was drowning. I needed someone to grocery shop with me since I couldn’t push the cart. I needed help getting shit off the shelves because it was either too heavy or I couldn’t stand and pull with one hand. I lumbered along slowly so if anyone was with me, we usually took double the time to do anything. Do you know how low toilet seats are? Yeah. They’re too low. Just sayin’.  I hated it. The only good thing was the return of chivalrous behaviour. Sometimes.

We old timers like a door opened for us every now and again, not slammed in our faces as we reach the doorway. Thanks. Not that the door was opened for me EVERY time, but more so than usual. I suppose looking like an old lady with a cane does make people a little more aware of how accessible things aren’t. Are not.  Nice try, though.  Ramps are few, automatic doors get broken and forget to be fixed, elevators are creepy as hell, (Hello. The Shining), and don’t get me started on the accessible parking spaces. I’ve wanted to butt those asshats out of the spots with the front of my car when I don’t see a permit. I think I shook my cane at an old guy in a truck who was taking a space waiting for wifey to get out of the store. Fuckhead.  Flashes of Carrie Underwood with a bat came barreling through my mind…

Me approaching the elevator from hell…

Walking from the car to the store, or to the mall was a chore.  I measured the distance to each store and if I had enough pain killers in me to make the trek. We take for granted the privilege of movement. We absent-mindedly walk around without thinking how we are getting there. How big is the doorway? How low are the chairs? How steep are the stairs? How many stairs? Is there a handrail? Are there icy conditions? Considerations most of us don’t have to think about. You get up and walk down the hall. You come back and sit down, or walk to another part of the house, mall, office.  You’re not planning your distances or measuring your pain levels.  You’re thinking the best way of getting from point A to point B.  So was I but with more variables.

I’m happy to say that’s behind me now. One hip replacement later, and I’m almost back to my pre-cane self. Fuck the chivalry, I can open my own door. Elevators still creep me out, so I take the stairs. People parking in accessible spots without permits still piss me off. I’m hoping Karma takes good care of them. I’m grateful I have a choice between elevators and stairs, parking spaces far away from the entrance, moving without having to consider how much it will hurt me; it’s a privilege many don’t have. I won’t complain about a distance I have to walk, or another push up I have to do in Bootcamp class. I’ll revel in my newfound freedom and independence.

And remain grateful for every step.  

Got a permit for that spot?!

Better Days

I’m still waiting for the fateful call to have the ever-anticipated hip replacement, but until that blissful day arrives, I languish in renovations and baby-ness. Two totally opposite ends of the spectrum. Kitchen renos are in full swing and have been frustrating and exciting, baffling and exhausting. It’s a roller-coaster ride fit for the amusement park from hell, but we have endless amounts of hope and anticipation of a clean functional space. We also yearn for meals where we don’t have to worry about running the microwave and electric skillet at the same time without blowing a fuse. Which usually happens. It also conks out if the toaster and kettle are running.  Better days, people. Better. Days.

Our skittishness with becoming overly excited with an impending birth in the family is well-founded, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to stem. Everyday the news is better, we hope for a healthy and happy baby girl by Christmas. A little Christmas Elf. Aww. We continue to hope for the best and try not to default to the negative Nelly tugging on our elbows. It’s hard to remain nonchalant about a life-altering event, but here we are. Going about our day-to-day, trying not to buy every baby-gadget on the market or every little fluffy pink tutu out there. Yeah. Sure. I’m calm. Trying not to ask D1 every day how she’s feeling, did the baby kick today, are you eating enough…Nana needs answers! Negative Nelly whispers in my ear every now and then.

 Bitch, fly!

The ‘hood continues to regale us with unending episodes of wayward pirate cats shitting on patios and meowing until dawn. I fucking love it. The peeps are not impressed with the stray cat strut happening and decide to post every incident of feline rebellion they witness. It’s a little over-the-top but makes for great fodder. I choose not to comment, but it takes immense restraint not to. I’m still holding out for the nicky-nine door extravaganza, but the summer came and went with no such news of the heathens out to wake the ‘hood. At least the hoodlums managed to keep their pants on in front of grandma…which, could be me next year. Watch out, youngins’ I’ll walk very fast after you! Or I’ll whip out my phone and get a pic! Hubby says I’m not allowed to plaster that on FB, but I wonder if printing out the photo and pasting them around the ‘hood would be, ok? Hmmmm….

Nana is on it!

Fall is knocking louder at the door and I’m anxious to let her in with all the pumpkin spiciness I can muster. Get a sweater it’s chilly out there. Apple cider candles, the warmth of a fire, cozy blankets and oh, the fall Hallmark movies that will drip with cheesy romantic flannel shirts. Bring. It. On.

There is so much to look forward to! Survival is key here. I’ll need wine and chocolate…and a pirate cat to keep me entertained. Now if the power will just stay on so I can heat up my chicken fingers and toast some bread…

Mommy Is on Vacation

The summer is coming to an end. I felt the breeze it left in its wake as it flew out the door. This summer was like no other in this fair province. The blazing sun, the above-average warm temperatures and humidity. We had dry spells for weeks, and wind was surprisingly low. It was the summers of my youth in Southwestern Ontario spent outside in the heat and trudging over the dykes to the Jaycee pool. I practically died from heat exhaustion on those treks. But we were young and more resilient. An afternoon splashing in the cool waters of the pool made us forget about the long walk to get there, or the walk back home.  

The blazing sun back then seemed brighter. Hotter, somehow. The summers were longer, I swear. Days and days spent out in someone’s yard listening to the radio or throwing crab apples around. Climbing trees, double-dutch tournaments and road hockey I wasn’t allowed to play. Riding our bikes to the corner store to get a 25-cent coke. Days at the cottage in Rondeau, running from flies and swimming in Lake Erie.

My new favourite Barbie

Ahh. Do kids nowadays understand what summers before Instagram and TikTok were like? I’m not sure. I hope so.

We had freedom and responsibility at the same time. We had the freedom to go to the park, to trek to the pool, to play in backyards and playgrounds, with the expectation to be home before dark. The responsibility came with looking after yourself. You were responsible to make sure you went home for lunch, or you had a key for the house to get in. If you went to the pool, you had everything you needed with you because mom and dad weren’t going to drive over there to drop it off to you. We were made to be independent at a young age. Look after your own shit because no one else is doing that for you, kid. Do kids do that now? Do they look after their own shit? I wonder.

Maybe that’s the struggle new parents have. The ever-present guilt of having to put too much on the shoulders of their children, so instead, they end up doing everything. A bit of struggle is not a bad thing. A bit of responsibility is okay. No one ever said mom must do everything, drive everywhere and be everything to everyone forever. It’s impossible. Putting the onus back on the child to look after themselves is the only way to garner some independence, to ensure an inkling of understanding what it means to take care of yourself. If mom comes to the rescue every time, it negates their responsibility. Their sense of being their own savior. Mommy is on vacation, kid. Save your own damn self.

Remember in the 80’s we had latchkey kids? Kids were given a key to the house to let themselves in while mom and dad were at work. Kids were responsible for getting a snack, doing their homework, and taking care of shit before mom and dad could make it home. It was a big generational trend back then and maybe it left some trauma for those kids. Maybe they grew up and said they weren’t doing that to their kids, so things changed. Maybe?   

Somewhere along the line, things shifted, and kids are relieved of responsibility. But, there goes freedom, too. Freedom from social media knowing every step you take, every bit of food you eat and what underwear you’re wearing. Mom and dad have you tracked on your phone and can find out if you went to that field party or if you have a crush on the guy from math class. They see you and so does everyone else. Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok…the peering eyes of society want to know where you live and how you cope with life, because we need to see how others live to dictate how we should live.

Really?

I’m glad I had the chance to grow up unhindered by peering eyes.  And the chance to take care of my own shit.  

Now if summer could just stay around a little longer….

Of Wine and Womanhood

Being a woman has become increasingly agonizing.  I’m not talking about the current landscape of women being paid less (we are) women being victimized (we are) and the women who speak out only to be victimized again (yup), I’m talking about the ever-raging battle we have with ourselves; our total lack of control over our bodies’ ability to wage a war we can never win.  Or better, a war we knew was imminent, but chose to ignore or hoped it would just fade into myth and legend because, really, who wants to deal with that shit?  The Big ‘M’, as I now refer to Menopause and all its glory, is to blame for all the calamity that has been occurring in my world the past month or more.  At least, that’s where I’m laying the blame, but who can tell now that wine has currently replaced any beverage deemed socially acceptable after 9am?

I know you’re looking for proof, because in this day and age of evidentiary documents no one can just take someone’s word for something anymore.  There needs to be written documentation, witnesses called, a committee formed, stuff examined…that’s not happening.   I’ll just give you the run down and you can take it for what it is.  A warning to all ladies entering this stage of shitdom.  You. Are. Welcome.

  1. Once upon a time, when I was young, I was diagnosed with Psoriasis, mainly on my hands, which I dealt with routinely up until my first pregnancy. The Fertility Gods then shone down upon me and vanquished said psoriasis into oblivion.  Until now.  It’s back with a vengeance.  WHY BODY, WHY?!!  I’ve been scratching and reverting back to smearing petroleum jelly on them, because that’s the only thing that helps the redness, pain and yukkiness.    The hormonal change is wreaking havoc…

 

  1. I tried the root cover-up stuff because, of course, my grey hair was showing a bit tooo much for me to like it. So, on goes the box of root cover dye that says GOLDEN BLONDE.  I take off the towel and ITS NOT GOLDEN ANYTHING, ITS GODDAM BROWN.  Yes, I am now a brunette on top and strawberry blond on bottom.  And it’s not just roots that received the colour.  I’m talking THE ENTIRE TOP OF MY HEAD.  I’m going with the “oh, I’m ombre now” thing except I DON’T THINK THAT’S A THING ANYMORE. In order to balance out the difference, I decided to use my red-dyed-infused shampoo, so now, I have red splashed into the rest of the bottom strands.   It’s like Bozo the Clown dyed his wig just around the crown of his head and left the rest to chance.  I feel pretty!  Apparently, this is how my life works now.

Bozo

It’s like this, only minus the creepy smile…sometimes. 

  1. I caught the cold from Hell and had to stay in bed for almost three days because THE COLD FROM HELL. I’m better now thanks…except for the shit Psoriasis and the grey/brown/red Bozo hair thing.

 

  1. My hip refuses to relinquish to the squats I NEED to do as often as I want, so now, I limp like I’m almost one hundred and fifty. I can’t run.  I can’t walk.  I limp, like I’ve been repeatedly kicked in the ass by a pissed-off, well, ass.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-17297-1368614295-2

How I currently walk

  1. According to Web MD, because I know you all look shit up there too, I have something called Crashing Fatigue. Fucking awesome.  This little trip to crazytown goes down like this:  for a few days or weeks or months, however long YOUR BODY WANTS TO, bouts of fatigue can overwhelm ‘the patient’ causing her to want to sleep incessantly, because it’s not like I have ANYTHING ELSE TO DO WITH MY LIFE.  I experienced this a couple of weeks ago and it lasted for almost five days.  FIVE DAYS of waking up fine until noon, then *WHAM*  it’s sleepy-night-night time.  I actually left work one day and went home for a nap.  I very infrequently nap.  Then, I was in bed by 8pm and up the next morning.  I slept the entire night.  Every night.  It was ridiculous, really.  Apparently, I really should look for appropriate hormonal therapies.  OH, FOR GAWD’S SAKE I DON’T WANT TO.   I also have bouts of short temper, angry outbursts and temper-tantrum-like behavior.  Kinda like a rabid dog without the foaming at the mouth and baring teeth, although Hubby may agree with that description.

grumpy cat

I’ve decided to just go with it and see where this shitshow lands.   I may have to rely on liquid therapy and a lot of ‘alone’ time away from actual people who may find me violently unpleasant.

Great.  I hope you all find the right therapy for you, your friends, your friends’ wives, the bus driver…whomever.

Stay healthy and stay away from the hair dye!

 

Nature vs Nurture

Parents, remember when the children were little, and you thought that each time a phase hit, it was the toughest time of all?

Ahh, the terrible twos. The tantrums, the fights to get them to eat a vegetable, the potty training (sorry, I think it’s called, ‘learning,’ now), the struggle to speak language one person besides Mommy will understand. That was tough.

The first day of kindergarten when they were afraid to let go of your hand and you were afraid they wouldn’t make any friends because, well, they’re weird. They’re so little. They made the friends and colored the pictures and learned their ABC’s. That was tough.

Then when they hit middle school and you thought they wouldn’t adjust to roaming the halls to class, or they would get in with the ‘wrong’ crowd, they wouldn’t make any friends, because well, they’re weird and awkward and your kid. And so young. The school dances, the snapchats, the social media. That was tough.

Then high school. Whoa, high school. Will they be bullied; will they join the club they like or not join any club? Will they play band or try out for a team, or will they get an afterschool job? Will they have friends, because well, they’re even more weird than before and they’re your kid? Social media, field parties, smoking, drinking, drugs, rebellious door-slamming and the ever popular, “I’m-sleeping-over-at-so-and-so’s-house” when really, they’re at a field party.  That was tough.

Every stage is tough from babyhood to adulthood.  Acknowledging the toughness and the weird awkward strange oblivion of parenthood makes it almost bearable, when you know everyone has gone through or is going through the same thing.

But what happens when they’re not?

What happens if your kid is the one who bullies? Your kid is the one who flunks out, who has anger issues, who smokes outside the cafeteria or inside it, who drinks, who does the drugs? What then?

It’s so easy for people to jump to assumptions and judge. Bad parenting. Ignorance. Not paying attention.

Nope. Nope. And NOPE.  

Sorry, judges, that is not how it works. Bad parenting cannot be the knee-jerk reactionary reason for kids to turn to the dark side. Not buying that.

Oh, sure it can be blamed for some kids, but not all. It’s not a ‘all-or-nothing’ kind of deal.  Here’s a thought before you judge. Chemical imbalance? Something deeper going on. Mental Health issue?  Let’s look at a case study.

A couple get married and decide to start a family. Mom has trouble conceiving, so she adopts. Baby number one, she is told, is healthy and perfect. The adoption went so well, they decide to adopt another. Baby number two is six-weeks old, healthy, they were told, and perfect. Then uh oh, mom gets pregnant. What she thought was the flu, was a baby. She gives birth prematurely, the baby struggles, but manages to survive.

So, nuclear family. Three children from all different birth mothers. All raised by the same parents in the same household, but completely different personalities, character traits and DNA.

Baby 1 is developing normally, excels in school, sports and is an all-around average kid. Works hard, gets good grades, has friends, etc.

Baby 2 developed normally, however, there were issues. He starts manifesting behavioural issues. Anger, truancy, failing grades, poor impulse control, etc. This continues into adolescence when it evolves into drug use, alcohol use, behavioural and anger management issues, until finally, police involvement and a stay at a group home.

Baby 3 Develops normally. Shy, but average grades, friends and works throughout high school, an average kid.

So, an average household, considering the constructs of the loss of the patriarch during the adolescence years of all three children. Two out of the three children develop normally. Go on to acquire post-secondary education, move out of the home and get married. They have children of their own and are happy.

Baby 2 struggled his entire life. Social workers, and school personnel tried to explain his behaviour, but none could, until it was too late. Behaviour difficulties manifested from a poor sense of self, poor self esteem, and a steep learning disability. He left high school at sixteen illiterate.  By the time he was in his twenties, things began to change. He got a job. He had a girlfriend. He was learning to read and write. He had his own apartment. He matured, changed, and realized his worth.

So, all three raised by the same parents, but one went completely off the rails. Totally off script, sideways in every way imaginable.

Bad parenting? No, on the contrary. Both parents were stable, loving, generous influences on their children.

Let’s consider that two babies were adopted. Birth parents and their influences on those babies played an integral part in their development, despite being physically absent.

Baby 2, in my opinion, suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. All the signs were there, but in the seventies, this was unheard of.  It was not a well-known nor often diagnosed syndrome. If the parents had not disclosed the babies’ adoptions, it would not have been investigated. Why would it? The parents were not drinkers.

My point in this long case study, in explaining this perspective, is for clarity. Is for a different perspective on kids going through a tough time, other than the label of ‘bad parenting.’  Stop it.

Instead, support. That ‘bad kid’ may come back from whatever hole he is in, and it won’t be because he had bad parents. It will be because of maturity, support, good parents who stuck it out and decided he was worth sticking around for. Shunning, shaming and labeling doesn’t work. Simply stating that the parents are to blame helps no one. And, in most cases, it’s not true.

As a parent, we were strict. We totally own that. Rules, limits, and more rules. Our kids will raise their children the way they see fit. They will be good parents based on, yes how they were raised, but also outside influences, chemical make-up of their children, and good ol’ personality traits. It’s the classic nature vs nurture and say what you will, nature will always play a part.

Next time you hear of someone’s child going down a dark path, before you judge, before you slough it off as bad parenting, consider there may be a different reason. Support. Listen. Encourage. Be someone’s ally, not a discouraging judge.