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Breast is Best. It’s also the Worst: PART TWO

 

It was six weeks ago, the week of February 22nd, when the girls hung it up for good.

The week I stopped breastfeeding my second and last baby and the old floppers officially retired from Boobietown.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment or even the day, but that was the week. Somewhere in the scattered sucks and swigs, between Monday and Sunday, she let go of the taste of me and phased me out for good. We got there gradually, so I never felt engorged, and she never felt deprived. It just happened. That was the week. The week we weaned. Wean Week. I was a weaner. I MAKE JOKES WHEN I’M SAD.

People don’t usually think about breastfeeding until they have children. (Or unless they have some sick milky tit fetish.) I was 29 years old, sitting in the office of a surgeon on LeMarchant Road, about to talk titty for the first time.

My mother had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 55, not seven months after her retirement party. She had her breast removed and was undergoing chemotherapy. We had grieved the news and bought the wig and felt all the feelings and done all the things. And now I was doing something I needed to do – whatever I could to make sure this didn’t happen to me, or if it did, to catch it early. My mom’s mother had had breast cancer too. So did several of her cousins. So did my dad’s sister and half-niece. Basically breast cancer was gyrating through my DNA. Scary shit. But they turned me away at radiology at St. Clare’s – too young for a mammogram, they said, even though my family doctor had sent me. I remember leaving the hospital feeling confused but relieved. That dreaded squeeze of my chesticles in a wafflemaker would wait another day… or decade.

(FYI I eventually went through genetic counselling. All things considered, their final recommendation was mammograms starting at age 40, ten years earlier than normal. I was low to medium risk, not high. Great – I’d be feeling myself up for the next ten years. Andrew generously vowed to help me.)

He would be vowing to do way more than that in a just a few months. My wedding dress was simple: ivory, lace, formfitting but stretchy – comfortable for dancing, so I could get down with my bad self at the Legion. It also had a deep V in the back, so I couldn’t wear a bra. I had these rubbery pads that stuck onto my breasts to give me some lift, and keep my nipples from stealing the thunder from my face. These are the things I was concerned with as a new bride with a semi-charmed life, before Mom called me on that terrible Tuesday with the news and I cried in my office and went home early with Cancer in the passenger seat. After that call, a lot of things mattered way less, and a lot of other things mattered way more.

The surgeon’s only advice: “Have at least one baby and breastfeed from both breasts.” If those weren’t her exact words, they’re pretty close. It’s hard to focus on people’s words when you’ve got Death staring at you from a faux leather chair across the room, flipping through Time magazine. But I recorded it in my memory. A simple set of instructions with no guarantee, but it was something: “Have at least one baby and breastfeed from both breasts.” The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation said so too: “…evidence suggests that [breastfeeding] can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. The biggest benefits are from longer periods of breastfeeding, for a year or more with one child or over several births.” How ironic that staying alive is so entwined with keeping someone else alive. It’s like life creates more life or something. Life is so damn weird.

And it was weird to even think about. I never fancied myself the motherly type, and here I was talking about using my dirty pillows to feed a tiny human. Breastfeeding. Feeding…with my breasts. GAH. Couldn’t we call them boobs at least? Hooters? Double lattes? “Breasts” was so… mature, so sophisticated, so anatomical. I couldn’t even sing along to Pearl Jam’s Jeremy without cringing when “he bit the recess lady’s breast.”

Ch-ch-changes.

I got pregnant on our wedding night in a suite at the Marriott on Duckworth Street. Or possibly 48 hours earlier, in the bathroom at home. I know, I know. That’s how I remember it so clearly. It was one or the other, but the wedding night knock-up is accurate enough and doesn’t have a toilet in it, so that’s the story I tell.

We didn’t try to get pregnant. But we didn’t prevent it either, for the first time. (Do yourself a favour and never ask me to give a speech on how the withdrawal technique is an ineffective method of birth control.) And ya know, it really wasn’t because I was eager to have a baby to breastfeed and ward off the big C, as the good doctor advised. It was because my mother – the grandmother of my possible maybe kids – already had it.

We scheduled her chemo treatments around the wedding day so she wouldn’t be vomiting into a bucket. We styled her wig in our hands. I was no bridezilla, I didn’t make much fuss, but this – THIS was not how my wedding day was supposed to be. And yet here we were. My brother had married in his early twenties and had two half-grown boys already. I had waited. Now part of me wished I hadn’t. What if my mother never got to meet my children? What if she never got to make them quilts or bake them muffins? I was feeling the weight of my own mortality and all of our time running out.

Max was born into quiet chaos in the spring of 2009. The crocuses were just poking their heads through the thawing ground, but beautiful things couldn’t fix this. In a cruel twist of fate, it was my dad fighting for his life now. Less than six months after Mom’s mastectomy, Dad was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. I found out I was pregnant the same day he had a grapefruit-size tumour removed from his bowel. A week before Max was due, Dad went into surgery to have a piece of his diseased liver removed – a chance to prolong his life. When they opened him up, they discovered tiny spots of cancer in his abdomen, and closed him up again. I got the news on the way to the hospital from my obstetrician’s office. I was big and round and sad. I was a big, round, sad pumpkin waddling through the Health Sciences Centre, having a baby and losing a dad.

Max arrived a couple weeks later, just enough time for Dad’s incision and our hearts to heal. He came to the hospital and held his new grandson in his arms.

The physical pain of Max’s birth distracted from the heartache that crouched in the corner of every room. I had torn pretty badly, and the pain continued at the breast. Max fed ravenously. It hurt – every time. My toes curled. I bit my lip. I dreaded feeding time, which was all the time. And if my husband came near these gerber servers, oh hell no. I felt raw – up top and down below. I stuck it out for ten months, and finally threw in the towel (and the udder cover) a couple weeks after Dad died. I just didn’t have the strength to fight the pain anymore – not the kind of pain that was optional. I could give myself a break now. It was time.

My blog was soon born and I published an article about breastfeeding: Breast is Best. It’s also the Worst. It hit the Huffington Post and went viral. It was the truth about breastfeeding. My truth, but one shared by many other women. Breastfeeding was not what they told us it would be. It’s magical, they said. It’s wonderful, they said. Liar, liar, maternity pants on fire. Some said my story discouraged new and future mothers from giving their babies the best start in life. I should have kept my story to myself, I guess, or sugar-coated it for the good of all future humankind. Sorry, that’s not how I roll. I discovered that there were so many women out there who were feeling just like me, but afraid to say so. They felt guilty about being unsuccessful or unhappy breastfeeders, because according to the books and commercials, we were supposed to be smiling from ear to ear and nip to nip. Finally the truth was setting us all free. And I don’t mean just releasing us all from the shackles of breastfeeding, although that’s what some moms do and everyone’s happier for it. I mean keeping us all going, persevering in spite of the shitty bits, because we know the struggle is real and it’s not in our heads and we are in this together. Who cares that I had hardcore La Leche Leaguers tsk-tsk-ing me for my story. I was happy to take one for the teats.

The following year, I published the story in my book, MotherFumbler (Breakwater Books, 2013). It became the story I read at public appearances. I read it at my book launch and watched the crowd crack up, including my mother. Boobs, fun bags, dairy pillows, sweater meat, meat puppets, Super Big Gulps: I said it all, lady balls out. It was funny, unfiltered, and true. These breasts that once gave me such grief were now giving everyone a chuckle. Multi-purpose, motherfuckers.

Max grew like a dandelion on the lawn. He sprouted into a toddler, then a little boy, right before my eyes. My pictures of him from month to month as he sat in the same rocking chair holding the same stuffed elephant… It’s like someone swooped down and replaced one baby with another. A drunk stork maybe. OR ALIENS.

My breasts on which he once feasted changed too. The perky torpedoes from my wedding day morphed into bulbous zeppelins and then into deflated flesh sacks, like Ziploc bags a quarter-full of gravy. Fried fucking eggs. BEE STINGS. But I didn’t care. I joked about it a lot. I wrote about it in my book. It freaked me out how a tiny human could cause such destruction. But I didn’t care, not really. My lady garden was a war zone. I had watched my mother lose her breast and almost her life. I had watched my father die before my eyes. I was well past perky tits.

Five years passed. I wrote about parenthood on my blog, in the local arts and culture newspaper, on the Huffington Post. I wrote about my indecision around having another baby and had a few man-children and Bible-thumpers tell me I should have my uterus removed. FUN.

My breasts enjoyed the freedom five. They even forgot they were food and felt sexual again. I’m a logical person, so why on earth would I do all this yucky stuff over? Seriously, who in their damn mind would willingly subject themselves to that kind of pain A SECOND TIME? It’s like walking into a creepy ass cave knowing full well there’s a bear inside who’s going to majorly fuck you up.

My husband didn’t concur. Probably because by the time his father was his age, he had seven children. (Yes, SEVEN, as in dwarves, deadly sins, and nation army.) And probably because Max didn’t come from his genitals. Un-fuckin-fortunately. He communicated his desire for a second kid very sweetly and maturely by saying things like, “If we don’t do this by the time I’m 35, I’m getting a vasectomy.” Which really made me feel appreciated and willing to sacrifice my body a second time to produce another noble heir.

I waited it out until the stakes were too high on my 36-year-old eggs, and Max could tie his shoes. And, without too much discussion or debate, we pulled the goalie.

A couple weeks later, I was visiting my friend who had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer at the ripe old age of 35. I told her my period was late, which rarely happens. She went and fetched something from her bathroom. Before her diagnosis, the yet undiscovered cancer was giving her prego-like symptoms so she bought a pregnancy test from the drugstore. There were two pee sticks in the pack. She handed me the other one. The irony of the moment was not lost on either of us.

I took it home with a full bladder. It was something I had to do at home, in my own bathroom, with my own silly dog sniffing at the door. So if the result was positive, I could react however I needed to – throw myself onto the bed, or down a well, whatever. The tell-tale double lines appeared almost immediately, like it didn’t even need to think about it, that’s how pregnant I was. I thought about telling Andrew the news in some clever way but I wasn’t even sure how I felt or how he’d feel so I told him immediately with a blank face and a monotone voice: “Robot husband, your robot wife is having a robot baby, bleep boop bleep.” We both kind of smirked at our fertile bastard status and embraced awkwardly for a minute on the edge of the bed. Here we go again, I guess. I stuck the pee stick in my underwear drawer to revisit it later. Maybe my socks would coax the truth out and I’d return to a negative result. Socks can be persuasive like that. Nope – still pregnant. Shit got real, real fast. Within days, my boobs were tender as boils. And nine months later, the congo bongos were in full milk-producing action.

Rae was born two days before Christmas, 2014. Her big brother, now nearly six years old, burst into the birthing suite at 8:30pm with his pajama shirt sticking up from under his sweater, the rest of the family pouring in behind him. Everyone talks about the benefits of having your kids close together, and I get that. But then I look at this picture of Max proudly holding his sister and whoa. That face.

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Even before I knew how the breastfeeding would go this time, I told myself I would write a second article. Breast is Best. It’s also the Worst: THE SEQUEL. My story, my truth, the second time around. Even if it meant admitting I was wrong.

I WAS WRONG.

I won’t say it was magical. I will never say that. I didn’t give birth to a unicorn with a rainbow pouring out of her butthole. But this time, it was completely and utterly/udderly different. I was a professional. I had a PhD in suckling humans. Rae was a little jaundiced when we took her home, so I fed her often and propped her up in the window in nothing but a diaper, like baking a peach pie in the sun. After the initial three weeks with my tender melons covered in cabbage leaves to combat the engorgement, it was smooth sucking all the way. No pain. No discomfort. No hesitation. I whipped ‘em out anywhere, all the time. My nipples felt nothing but generous, convenient, and useful. I fattened up a living, breathing person while watching Netflix, pausing to admire her eyelashes and her chubby hand resting on my collarbone. I fed her at the swimming pool while Max did cannonballs. I sat on a picnic blanket in Bannerman Park after bootcamp and refuelled the human before going to the grocery store. I topped up my squishy Ewok in the shade of a tree at Disney World, then watched her brother become a Jedi. It was glorious. Rae was a champ. She packed on the pounds – in the 95th percentile for height and weight from day one. I stopped going to the breastfeeding clinics to get her weighed because I felt ridiculous. The proof was in the puddin’: Rae could have eaten the other children. I even started plying the ol’ doinkers up from my bra, instead of down – even less fussing around with snaps and fabric. I was a breastfeeding ninja. A well-oiled milk machine.

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Maybe it’s because the setting was so different this time. No father fighting cancer in the background. No Death lurking in the shadows going “tick, tock, Mommy” pointing to the clock on the wall and laughing.

Or maybe round one killed my nipples and they had lost all sensation.

Or maybe she was just a different baby with a better latch, simple as that.

Whatever. This is my follow-up. My sequel to my most popular post to date, after six years of blogging. That was my truth at that time. With that baby. With that me. It is not my truth today. With this baby. With this me.

I’m not sorry for writing it. The truth can never be wrong. But I do apologize if it deterred anyone from giving it a shot. Breastfeeding is not magical for a whole lot of mothers, so maybe we should all stop saying it is. But admittedly, with the right conditions, it can be pretty sweet. I see that now. I encourage you to try it. Stick it out for the first few weeks, if you can. The first three weeks are the worst. It usually gets better after that, I swear to the cantaloupe gods.

And then, before you know it, it’s over. Rae has forgotten about it already. The other morning we were lying in bed and my robe fell open. Before February 22nd, she would have seen my nipple and pounced, mouth open, like an aardvark on a mound of ants. This time she laughed and flicked it with her finger. It wasn’t food anymore. It was just a funny looking button. I kept her alive with little more than my body for a year and she has forgotten it in a flick, quite literally. We still have our moments. As soon as I get home and pick her up, she sticks her thumb in her mouth and jams her hand down my top. It’s comfort, I guess. Warmth. This is our thing now. But one day, this too will end. Before I know it, I’ll be buying her a bra of her own. Life is so damn weird.

But it was my first baby, who’ll be seven years old in a couple weeks holy crap how did that happen, who made me lament Wean Week the most. We had a tough time that first year, Max and I. But we made it through together, and we’re here and we’re strong. The week after I left Boobietown, I was lying with him at bedtime and I told him Rae would be going to visit Nanny for a couple nights, which was okay now that I wasn’t breastfeeding her anymore. He looked at me with eyes wide and glossy. “So… I can’t have a try now?” He was dead serious. Max had always wanted to see what my milk tasted like, fascinated by my nursing Rae and the fact that he fed there too, for the better part of his first year on earth. I had always meant to give him a swally before it was too late, somehow, but it never seemed like the right moment. I had forgotten, and now it was impossible. It was the end of an era. Boobietown was a ghost town. SAD FACE.

But no, I’m not getting an amulet made from my breastmilk. Or a tattoo of my tit on my tit. But I can’t say I didn’t think about it.

What I did get from all this is a greater appreciation for my own body, my own breasts. Not how they look in a bra – I’m okay with my itty bitty titties. Not how they feel in my hands – like half-filled water balloons. But how they’ve served me well. For Max, for Rae, for my health (I hope), I’ve done all that I can do. In fact, these puppies have done us all such a solid, I should respect them enough to stop laughing at them when I step out of the shower and see myself in the mirror. Besides, these sweet little pancakes will slap onto the mammogram tit-squisher pretty easily in a couple years, so that’s another plus right there.

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If I were a journalist I wouldn’t be able to say “WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK”

Have you seen the new provincial tourism commercials? They’re lovely and colourful and do a great job at highlighting our assets and hiding the ugly bigotry that’s alive and well here in Newfoundland and Labrador. I guess “prejudice” and “old boy’s club” were not key benefits on the creative brief. That’s what you get for all dem dolla bills.

But have no fear, citizens of earth. We can always count on the people of this fine province to shine a big fat national spotlight on our backwoods hillbilly bullshit for free.

Bigots are everywhere, no doubt, not just here. But I don’t live everywhere. I live here, and so do my children, and so will my grandchildren most likely. So here is where I’m concerned. Here is where I got a problem.

I was listening to CBC radio on my drive home from work last week, and they aired a call from a man who was giving his opinion on the recent news story about a local jeweler who had placed an anti-gay marriage sign in his store window. It read: Man + Woman = Marriage God’s Way, Genesis 2:24.

He went on for several minutes of my life that I will never get back but, in a nutshell, he said that he supported the business owner’s right to put a sign in his window because everyone is entitled to their opinion and free speech and blah blah blah word word word and “the gay crowd” need to just suck it up. THE GAY CROWD. He said it several times and with such contempt, he may as well have been calling them shit-eating zombie fuckers.

After his call was aired (and then another one by a lady who thinks we should leave the homosexuals alone because God will be their judge), the radio host’s voice chimed in to politely say, “Thanks for your opinions.” Yes, thanks for the gonorrhea too, buddy. Much appreciated.

Then this week, my newsfeed was inundated with the glorious goings-on in Spaniard’s Bay where a woman exposed the sexist culture at the local volunteer fire station where she is the lone female firefighter (and most qualified, by the way), and half the department quit and we hope nobody’s frying chips on the stove in Spaniard’s Bay tonight, and missus gets called a “conniving witch” who’s out for the chief’s job, and half the town assemble in protest to show support for “their men” who have been so horribly wronged by these allegations of sexual harassment. CBC broke the story and it quickly made national headlines. Yes, right now when the rest of the country thinks of Newfoundland and Labrador, they’re not thinking of the beautiful scenery featured in our tourism commercials. They’re thinking of a fireman filling another fireman’s hat with jizz. Excellent. Very majestic. The papers deliver just the facts, of course: she alleges this, he says that, they all claim this and that and everything else. Journalism.

Ahem. You know what? I’m not a journalist and this is my blog and I can say whatever the fuck I want and not even my mom can stop me though she’ll probably try, so guess what? WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT. IN. THE. ACTUAL. FUCK.

FUCK THAT GUY ON THE RADIO. Fuck thanking him for his “opinions.” He was an ignorant prick. In the tone of his voice, thinly THINLY veiled in polite words so CBC would actually be able to air the thing, I discerned stupidity, arrogance, and contempt. If he was willing to say this on the radio, what does he say in real life? What does he REALLY think of my gay friends? (Two of whom are getting married tonight, by the way. Congrats, Amy and Katie!) And what, oh dear baby jesus in the garden, is he teaching his children and his grandchildren? I’ll take a pass on those play dates, thank you very much. FUCK THAT GUY. Also, fuck that jewelry store owner. I don’t want my kids seeing your fucking sign, you Old Testament twit.

And you know what else? To anyone in Spaniard’s Bay or any damn place who thinks you gotta be “one of the boys” to work among them: FUCK YOU. How about we all step out of the time warp and be “one of the humans.” And if you’re teaching your kids, directly or indirectly, that women need to just shut their mouths and know their place, SHAME ON YOU. It’s one thing to be an asshole yourself. It’s quite another to teach that assholery to your kids and deny them the chance to be someone better. Sounds like child abuse to me.

Fuck you, radio caller guy – not because I’m concerned for my gay friends and family. We don’t need to defend them anymore because it’s 2016 and there’s nothing to defend and never was. They are strong and would crush your caveman ass with their laughter. What concerns me is that you bastards still exist in the same world as my kids. My son is almost seven years old and still learning about life, and straight or gay or ponysexual whatever the fuck that is I don’t even care, he’s still trying to make sense of the world. And by some horrible stroke of bad and terrible luck, he might come across the likes of you and be exposed to your brand of epic crap. Imagine if he had heard you on the radio, he might have thought, “IT’S ON THE RADIO SO IT MUST BE TRUE. AND THE NICE NEWS GUY SAID ‘THANKS,’ SO IT MUST BE RIGHT.” Mind you, if he had been in the car, I would have slammed the radio off so hard I would have tuned in Tokyo for real. Or maybe I would have left the radio on and used it as an opportunity to teach Max about horrible people like Hitler, and you. We would have a nice long chat and look up the word “bigot” in the dictionary. I think my son is smart enough to resist your hateful poppycock, but even if one ounce of it trickles into his mind, if one speck of his love and understanding and humanity is replaced with arrogance and hatred, someone will pay. I WILL NOT HAVE IT.

And fuck you in Spaniard’s Bay too, BECAUSE MY KIDS ARE HERE AND RIGHT NOW THAT’S NOT FAR ENOUGH AWAY FROM YOU. And I’ll be damned if I let one single droplet of your bullshit spill onto them. The news coverage of the rally showed children holding signs that said “support our men” and I had to check the calendar to see which year it was, and check the mirror to see if I was sporting a beehive, and I was almost disappointed to realize it was 2016 and my hair was on trend because it meant YOU PEOPLE ACTUALLY EXIST. What scares me most is what the kids are gathering from all this. THEY’RE KIDS. Their brains aren’t fully developed yet. Even if you folks in Spaniard’s Bay were right about everything (FYI you’re not, everything out of your mouths has only helped confirm Seymour’s claims), your kids are learning to NEVER TRUST A WOMAN WHO SPEAKS UP. And what’s worse, your daughters are learning to NEVER SPEAK UP AGAINST THE MEN and NEVER REPORT SEXUAL HARASSMENT because NOBODY WILL BELIEVE YOU. Imagine how many times a child has overheard the word “bitch” or “whore” or worse in reference to Brenda Seymour this week. I’m sure that won’t breed any misogyny at all. You should erect a new statue in the town square of a fireman holding his big giant hose, with water splashing into the faces of the tiny womenfolk. That should draw some support.

Are the residents of Spaniard’s Bay bad people? Absolutely not. I probably know a few of them. And, being a bayman myself, with a baygirl t-shirt and a thick Bonavista Bay accent, I’m in tune with outport life. I respect it. Not all baymen are backwoods hillbillies. It’s important to know that. Rumour has it there was a rally in the town today to show support for Brenda Seymour and, more importantly, calling for community-wide education on sexual harassment. I hope the country of Spain hears this so they change their minds on wanting their name back and stop pretending they were never here.

Are the male firefighters there bad guys? Not at all. I’m willing to bet they’re all generally good fellows. What they are guilty of, though, is living in the dark ages, when you could make comments in the workplace like “I jerked in your hat,” and you didn’t have to DO SOMETHING (besides laugh) when a dude played a porn video as part of your team’s training, and you didn’t have to take ambitious women seriously because nobody else ever did and nobody cares. But, see, ignorance is no excuse for treating people like shit. Just because you don’t KNOW you’re behaving badly doesn’t mean you aren’t, and it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. So now they must make amends out there in Spaniard’s Bay. You know, by getting schooled on what sexual harassment actually is, and how a toxic work environment can be created by the best of people when they just don’t understand shit, and how we need women in positions of leadership because HELLO, it’s 2016. And please please PLEASE, don’t forget to teach the children. As soon as possible too, to get the poison out. Perhaps if we had all been taught this stuff early, none of this would be happening. And maybe, once they all see the light, they can apologize to Brenda Seymour. Maybe even thank her, as I do, on behalf of all our daughters and sons. Thank her for bravely pushing this all too common bullshit out into the light, clearing the path for education and change and bearing the backlash herself, so my little girl can grow up and be anything she wants to be including the god damn FIRE CHIEF, and my son can grow up and never find himself in this kind of hot water.

Ahhhh, it’s great to be a blogger.

And I thought I was pissed off about the price of vegetables.

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You’re one year old and it’s 2016 and somebody pinch me

2016. It sounds so space age, and yet here you are, just a notch above zero, with your whole life ahead of you. By the time you can read this, maybe the hoverboard will be a real thing. Or maybe it’ll be a real thing in about 30 years… when you invent it.

Time flies, girl. Last Christmas, they stuffed all eight and a half pounds of you into a stocking and placed you in my arms for the first time. This Christmas, you hung your own stocking. Then promptly yanked it down. Babies.

We had a great first year together, didn’t we? All last spring, we went to mama ‘n baby bootcamp where you were the kid that never cried and I was the mom who almost keeled over pushing a stroller up Leslie Street. Sometimes I wished you would cry so I’d have an excuse to stop doing burpees. I got callouses on my hands on the way back down Leslie Street with the stroller. I swear, I’ve never held onto anything so tight my whole life.

You love music. We kick it old school with the lullabies. Our song is Eternal Flame by The Bangles. (One of the first all-female rock bands — you will love them.) I’ve been singing that song to you since you were born. Your brother can sing it word for word. Now that you’re walking, I think it might be time to Walk Like An Egyptian.

Your current favourite is The Mummer’s Song. There’s a bulb on the Christmas tree that plays it – a gift from Nanny Murphy, because you’ve got hers worn out. You clap to the music and bob your head up and down. You’re quite the dancer. Hear the subtlest beat and you break out in a spontaneous groove session. Your signature moves are the mini squat and the double arm flap. Poppy Jim had the same moves. Thanks for reminding me of him.

We live just a couple minutes from Nan and Pop Murphy now. Pretty awesome, right? You’re going to be spending a lot of time with them now that I’m back to work. Please keep the diaper blowouts to a minimum so they won’t rescind on their offer to babysit you. Just last week Poppy said how thrilled he was that he would get to experience all your joy and not somebody else. We are going to bake him some date squares (his favourite) this week. Well, let’s face it – I’m going to bake them while you hurl all the Tupperware out of the cupboard.

Your new room is pink. I’m not painting it anytime soon, so go ahead and love pink if you want. It’s cool. But I really want you to know that you can like whatever colours you want, and play with whatever you want (you know, except matches and knives.) Remember — half the dinosaurs were girls! Everything is for everybody, kid. Don’t let them tell you any different.

You won’t remember your old house, but you had pretty green wallpaper on your bedroom, and the floor creaked when we crept in to check on you, and the sunlight poured in in a dreamy way, and there were ponies down the street, and when we’d hike on the Gallows Cove Trail you’d fall asleep in the carrier and miss all the natural beauty but I got to see twice as much with you, beautiful you, in my view.

Yes. It’s time for the part where I say how lovely you are. You’re a feminist, obviously, so one day you’re going to be mad that I mentioned how you look at all. (You’re also going to resent the fact that your first movie at the theatre was Magic Mike 2. Sawry.) Go ahead and get mad. I’ll be proud that you did. People are going to tell you you’re pretty or plain or skinny or fat or this or that your whole life, and I hope with all my might that your wisdom about that comes early: none of it matters, not one little bit. Just last week when the new Stars Wars movie came out, Carrie Fisher (who played Princess Leia) said, “Youth and beauty are not accomplishments.” Listen to smart, strong women like that, will you? It will help you navigate the bullshit poop.

Oh, and by the way, Star Wars named their new hero after you. They spelled it differently to be sneaky, but we know what they’re up to. I guess your next Halloween costume is figured out. If you’d rather be Strawberry Shortcake, that’s okay too.

For the record only, here’s how you look at one year old: Your hair is a honey brown colour, like golden sugar. It’s getting long, so we have to brush it to the side to keep it out of your eyes. It’s straight, surprisingly; when Max was your age, he looked like the white Lionel Richie.

You’re in the 95th percentile for size: 26 pounds and 30 inches tall. Your cheeks and thighs are chubby and squishy and I hope they stay that way forever, and I hope you don’t care very much if they do.

Your eyes are dark mocha, beneath long, sweeping lashes and those distinguished Murphy brows. Combined with full, bow-shaped lips, you often look super serious, like you’re thinking about all the things that don’t make sense in the world. Which is a lot of things. When you grow up, you’re going to change some of those things. I will help you.

Sometimes when we’re driving, I glance in the rearview mirror to see if you’re okay back there, and you’re staring out the car window looking pensive and concerned. Watching the trees whizz by. Taking in the world. This is one of my favourite things to look at: you, thinking, wondering, learning.

That serious look complements your pointing habit. You’re always pointing. You’re a pointing junkie! When we’re at a restaurant, you turn to a stranger nearby and point right at his eye, like you’re picking him out of a line-up. “That’s your guy. He stole the microfilm.” Then you pass him your sippy cup. Truce.

You point because you’re curious and smart. You know where your nose is, and your ears, eyes, mouth, hair, tongue, and toes. We ask you where your tongue is and you stick that sucker out all the way to Florida. You also know where the vacuum plug-in goes. (Um, could you un-know that, please?) You can woof like a puppy dog and baa like a sheep. You like to say “baby” a lot. A couple nights ago, you woke up every hour and shouted “bayyyyyy-bee.” Which was 51 per cent annoying, and 49 per cent cute. It went something like this:

Other than my emotions, your favourite thing to play with is water. You practically climb into the bathtub headfirst as I undress you. Let’s go swimming more in your second year on Earth, okay? Let’s try and stay awake though. Last time you went swimming, you fell asleep in the pool while sucking your thumb.

You don’t have a favourite toy yet. You got a new kitchen for Christmas but you’re still trying to figure out what all the round things are (they’re plates.) You play with your brother’s trains. You hug your dolly and say “awwww.” You do the same thing to the remote control. Your love knows no bounds.

Especially your love for Mommy. As soon as you’re in my arms, you put your thumb in your mouth and snuggle in. Sometimes, when you see me approaching to pick you up, you stick your thumb in and lean your head toward me, assuming the cuddle position before we even touch. You make a low humming sound when you’re finally resting on my collarbone. The sound of contentment. Of coming home. I know the day will come when you don’t do this anymore, so I made this paragraph extra long and detailed, to preserve it real good.

When you’re not staring down a suspect, you’re a happy tot. Last week, Nanny Shirley put you down in your crib and started to sing you to sleep. Without thinking, she softly sang, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands,” and up you popped, clapping them chubby paws. That story cracks me up. Your good humour makes up for the fact that you are the worst sleeper in the universe. Yay/Yawn.

When it’s naptime, you wave to the birdies on the wall as we carry you up the stairs. I knew it was a good idea to hang that picture there. “Bah,” you say. “Bah.” Which means either bye-bye, or birdies, or both. Or maybe it just means, “Bah, I don’t need no nap. You fools think I’m going to sleep – bah!”

When other moms tell me their baby sleeps for 14 hours straight, I shoot lasers at them with my eyes. (Just kidding, I’m happy for them, envy is bad.) You usually go to sleep in your own bed, but almost always wake up in ours. I don’t mind. I especially love it when you kick me in the face. And when you turn sideways between Dad and I, rendering our king-size bed a Lilliputian cot. And when you snore like a chainsaw. (Sometimes I can’t tell who’s doing the snoring – you, Daddy, or the dog – so I give all three of you a poke). And when I abruptly wake up at the very moment when you’re about to lunge headfirst off the side of the bed and I suffer a mild coronary. And when I wake up at 5am to find you sitting between us holding my iPhone and laughing, with Siri saying “I don’t understand.” Co-sleeping is a riot.

That laugh though. Oh my. It’s like you’re reading “ha ha” right off the page. We laugh, you laugh more, we all laugh our heads off and all is right with the world.

Your smile slays me too. You tip your head back a little, scrunch up your nose and show your teeth – two little ones on the bottom, four uneven ones on top. Who needs a full set of teeth anyway? You were chewing top sirloin months ago. Your schoolyard nickname shall be Tough Gums.

You love your groceries, especially bananas, carrots, peppers, and green peas. (Let’s face it, I could have put ice cream and cake on that list but I’m trying to look good here and it’s the grandparents’ fault you even know what these things are.) You’ve yet to turn up your nose to anything. Splash waits eagerly under your highchair, but the castoffs are scarce. Which is not really fair, since you’re always mooching off her rations. I’ve scooped Holistic Choice dog food out of your mouth at least a couple dozen times. Yesterday, I caught you facedown in the water dish having a nice drink for yourself. Me nerves.

You love your fur sister, and your human brother. Max makes you laugh more than anyone else. “I make her laugh the best and smile the most,” he says. Hopefully he’ll continue to entertain you for free, now that you’re on the move and crushing his Legos like Baby Godzilla. You don’t crawl anymore at all. It’s all walking now, all the time. Cousin Norah says you walk like you’re riding a horse. Giddy-up, world, here comes Rae.

You are a busy little bugger. The only way for me to cook or wash the dishes is to give you free reign of the Tupperware cupboard. I carry the food from the fridge to the counter to the stove like I’m running an obstacle course in Munchkin City.

It’s hilarious how you sling things out of boxes and drawers. You throw each thing over your shoulder with a swift flick without even looking where it went, then move on to the next item immediately. Packing up to move in the fall was challenging. As fast as I’d pack a box, you’d unpack it. It was 49 per cent annoying, and 51 per cent cute.

Your clothes are mostly hand-me-downs from your friends, Maddy and Sadie. We’re saving our money for medical school. Or art school. Whatever, you decide.

You don’t have much interest in TV, despite my efforts to plop you down in front of Sesame Street with a cracker so I can go poop. Probably because I binge-watched a dozen series on Netflix when you were an infant and thanks to my violent sobbing during Call the Midwife you now think the TV is just a big shiny box of tears.

You love books though. You turn the pages like a boss. You don’t wait for me to read a page before you’re turning to the next. We don’t make it to the end of one book before you’re pushing a different one in my face. I hope you love to run and dance and sing and swim and paint and build, but above all these things I hope you love to read. Maybe in 2016 we can slow down and point to the pictures.

Your brother’s first word was “stay,” because the dog, then a puppy, never stayed still. Splash is eight years old now (56 in dog years) and way more chill, so your first word was “dada.” I’m okay with this. Dada’s a good guy. In fact, right this second you’re looking out the window while Max skates on the mini ice rink Daddy made in the backyard. Next year, you’ll have skates too.

We’ve been breastfeeding for a whole year – high fives, partner! Since I’m back to work there’s no boob juice flowing in the daytime, but you still have a couple good swigs at night. It’s funny now because you can easily tell me what you want. No matter where we are, you jam your hand down my top and squeeze, like I’m toting a couple of ripe oranges. Sometimes it hurts and makes me scream, but it’s hilarious so I endure. I’m going to write a new article about breastfeeding (I wrote one when Max was a baby, about how horrible it was.) You’ve changed my mind on a good many things.

You have a big year ahead, girl. You’re going to learn all about trees and birds and rocks on the trails of Mount Pearl. You’re going to touch your first caterpillar. (Touch, please, not eat.) We have sidewalks in our new neighbourhood, so you’re going to ride that tricycle like you stole it. We have new friends to meet, new playgrounds to climb, and new books to read. Your brother is quite the scribe these days so maybe he’ll even write a book for you! Let’s hope it’s a little lighter than his last book, which included a page that went: “At home with your wife pregnant.”

I’ve rearranged my priorities a bit for 2016, because of you. A fire has been lit under me these last couple of years when it comes to women’s issues, gender equality, social stuff. Especially now that I have a daughter. I talk about it a lot on my blog and in my articles, trying to make a difference in some small way; silence is for the grave and all that. But I realize the biggest impact I will have in this life is with you and your brother, and when I’m talking about these things to all these other people, I don’t have the time I need to talk to you. So in 2016, I won’t be writing for The Overcast anymore. My ad career and packing Max’s lunchbox are more than enough for me in the Commitments & Deadlines department. The rest of the time, I want to be playing and talking with you. That’s how I’ll change the world – through you and Max. And if there’s time to spare, I will write, and hopefully people will read. You will get the best of me. And I will see, fully, the best of you. You’re only one year old, little girl, but I already know there’s going to be a whole lot to see.

Happy first birthday, my glorious Rae.

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10 Hottest Prime Ministers of Canada Ever

Now now, Canada. Just because our new Prime Minister is a man doesn’t mean we can treat him like a piece of meat. If we had elected JUSTINE Trudeau and everyone was yapping about her ass, we’d be throwing maple syrup all over the place.

Besides, Justin Trudeau is NOT the first hottie at the helm. Here are the Top 15 Hottest Prime Ministers of Canada. (It started as a top 10 list but there was just so much hotness on Parliament Hill. The Hill is basically an active volcano spewing hot lava into my lady cave.) Here we go:

15. Jean Chretien. Yes, I’m serious. Jean narrowly made the list, but in a country that prides itself on including all kinds of people, ol’ squishy face deserves a spot. Look on the bright side: he talks with one side of his mouth and he’s deaf in one ear, so all that unused energy gets channeled to you know where. The man is 81 years old and still swinging around his French baguette.

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what can you do with bell’s palsy? be prime minister, bitch.



14. Sir Mackenzie Bowell. His name sounds like the intestine that poop travels through, but his face doesn’t look shitty at all. Well, what I can see of it under that snow-beard. I think his Cabinet ministers were jealous of his good looks because they said he was incompetent and forced him to step down. Bowell called them “a nest of traitors” and went home to have all the sex. He fathered nine children and lived to be 93, which in those days was like older than Yoda.

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who’s yer daddy? i am.



13. What’s for supper? Sir Charles Tupper. Mmmm, delicious mutton chops with a side of bow chicka wow. Oh c’mon, this guy was seriously ahead of his time. Facial hair is all the rage now. Charlie Tupps was the original hipster. This picture of him gives me double nipple boners.

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my, that’s a big pocketwatch



12. Alexander Mackenzie, Canada’s sexy answer to Abe Lincoln, except instead of being famous for ending slavery, our bearded boy was famous for something much more significant: introducing the secret ballot. If he wasn’t dead, I’d introduce him to my secret ballot box.

OH ALEX, THAT TICKLES.

oh alex, that tickles



11. John Sparrow David Thompson. I like my prime ministers the same way I like my prime rib: thick and juicy. Thompson was 5 feet 7 inches tall and 225 pounds. Pretty sure they named fat raisins after him. He dropped dead while visiting Queen Victoria in 1894. Went face down in the crumpets. We can’t blame the Brits though. Thompson was from Halifax so we should probably blame the Greeks. Friggen donairs.

ALLADIS

fat pants be damned



10. Kim Campbell. Can we leave the lone lady off a list that sexually objectifies? Is Stephen Harper a good musician? Exactly. Ah, Kim. The political princess with the golden hair, with possibly maybe some brains underneath it somewhere but who really knows or cares let’s just talk about her cute bob and bouncing bajongas. Kimmy is cute as hell and calls her vagina her “portfolio.”

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vulva scarf



9. Paul Martin. PM was PM from 2003 to 2006. He had the initials, and the baby blues. He also had the polio when he was eight, but that didn’t stop him from developing a serious case of sexyitis. Okay, so Paul’s no supermodel, but he passed a bill that approved same-sex marriage in 2005, making him hot as balls in my books.

PAUL MARTIN

dem eyes doh



8. Pierre Trudeau. Consistently ranked by historians as our #1 Prime Minister, and they don’t even take into account his high cheekbones, epic erections, and sexual rendezvouses avec Barbara Streisand. Pierre was intellectual, charismatic, but most importantly, stylish. He looked fuddle-duddling good in a suit, a fur coat, and…a sailor boy outfit? Yeah, okay, I’d get on that ship. Ladies were hot for this badass who wore sandals and slid down bannisters. Unfortunately it’s too late for me to slide down his. FUDDLE DUDDLE! Justin’s will have to do.

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take me to your island, gilligan



7. Wilfred Laurier, Prime Minister from 1896 to 1911. Canadians loved Laurier for his “sunny ways” – evident in this portrait. (Justin stole that phrase from him, and his hair.) The ladies adored him. In fact, after his death his sexy remains were placed in a stone sarcophagus, adorned by sculptures of nine mourning female figures. Apparently they represent each of the provinces in the union…likely story, guys. Laurier died of a stroke in 1919. Unfortunately it was not the kind I give with my hand.

SUNNY WAYS INDEED

sunny, sunny ways. so sunny.




6. This Arthur ain’t no aardvark. Arthur Meighen was legit hot. You’ve probably never heard of him because he was Prime Minister for, like, five minutes back in the 1920s. But hey, that’s all you’d need with this piece of gear, amirite? I might be right or Arthur may be hypnotizing me with his crazy sexy eyes.

I OWN YOU NOW

take off your clothes



5. Why the fuss over Justin’s hair? JT’s got nuthin’ on JM. Check out Sir John A. Macdonald‘s do. I’d like to make it a policy to run my fingers through that wig. I don’t even care that he was a raging alcoholic and a horrible racist, this Sir makes me purr. Macdonald was Canada’s first, and I wish he had been mine. I also wish I was a 10-dollar bill so he’d be on me.

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please, sir, can i have some more?



4. This Disney prince, John Turner, was Prime Minister of Canada for 79 days in 1984. And whatayaknow – our little prince had a thing with Princess Margaret back in the 50s. He couldn’t marry her though because he was a dirty Mick. Not dirty enough, I say. He eventually married great-niece of John McCrae, author of “In Flanders Fields.” Flanders Fields was also the nickname for Turner’s vast and fragrant ball sack.

DAYUM

take me to disneyland



3. Lester Pearson. This sexy nerd was in charge from 1963 to 1968. That’s not a bowtie; that’s a seat for the lay-deez. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis. I’d like him to take a look at my Screwez Canal, see what can be done about that. Pearson also started the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. I can tell you right now, Lester: my current status is horny.

SEXY NERD

sexy nerd



2. Before Tom Selleck there was Sir Robert Borden, Prime Minister of Canada during the First World War. Rumour has it he cheered up war widows with free moustache rides. Borden is on the 100-dollar bill, so I always carry one around in my pocket so his upper lip hair is as close to my vagina as possible. Can Justin even grow a moustache?

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butt crack haircut: also hot



1. OH YES, HE CAN. Justin Trudeau, hottest Prime Minister of Canada, ever. I mean, he’s no mutton chops (see #13) but he’ll do. And, he’s all about girl power, multiculturalism, equality, rights, and freedoms. So he’s definitely cool with me showing up at 24 Sussex in a leather mask and dog collar. Justin is my religion now. God I love this country! And hey, if JT wants to lay some pipeline, I’d get behind that. Honestly, I’m just glad I didn’t have to put Ben Mulroney on this list.

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Everyone Loves a Weirdo, and Other Things I Learned at BlogJam

A couple nights ago, I got an email from my son’s first-grade teacher, telling me she had chosen Max to speak at the Thanksgiving assembly. We told Max the news, half calm (because it was just a couple lines, not a TedX speech), and half excited (because this was one step closer to our retirement on the coattails of our son, the great orator). After a couple minutes, Max’s pride turned to dread and he started to cry. “I don’t want to do it,” he said. “Not in front of all those people.”

MOMMY TO THE RESCUE.

“Guess what? When Mommy was a little girl, I was afraid to speak in front of people too. But this weekend, in Halifax, I spoke in front of, like, a hundred people!”

“Mom. There’s way more than a hundred people at my school.”

PHOOEY.

It’s true though. There was a time when I hated public speaking. I was only comfortable talking to my invisible friend, Colin. Colin always got me. He didn’t judge me for making out with my knees in the bathtub. I still get nervous before I approach the microphone; I don’t fully trust anyone who doesn’t. But nowadays, I enjoy a little limelight. And — I can’t even believe I’m saying this — there’s never enough people in the room. The way I see it — if I’ve done all the prep and my speech is solid and my hair looks good and I don’t have diarrhea, the room may as well be packed. Sorry, Colin, I’ve grown.

I like a packed room — just one of the things I learned about myself this weekend at BlogJam in Halifax, the first ever bloggers’ conference in Atlantic Canada, at the schnazzy Marriott Hotel on the waterfront. ‘Twas a full day of speakers on all things blog, from widgets to Wordpress, from how to find your voice to how to find the clitoris (I’m paraphrasing.) I was one of the keynote speakers, starting off the day with a bang (and a few fucks), at 9am on a Sunday. Like ya would.

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That’s me waaaaaaaay up there.

Here’s a close-up on my opening slide. I’ll post the whole presentation soon, I swear. It will probably change your life. Or at least your night. Okay, your underwear. It will at least make you change your underwear.

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There were sessions happening at the same time all day, so I had to quickly decide which ones to attend, and which ones to slip out of in order to go check on my widdle durl who was locked in a safe in my hotel room upstairs. Relax. It’s a SAFE.

Just kidding. I actually dropped her off at the orphanage.

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It’s a hard knock life.

Here are a few other things I learned at BlogJam:

1. There are a lot of bloggers in this region. According to fake statistics, only 10% of bloggers come forward to attend bloggers’ conferences.

2. It’s a warm, inviting blogging community we have here in Atlantic Canada. Not cold and damp like the basements we usually blog from. No wait, those are video gamers. Nevermind. We’re way cooler than those losers.

3. Newfoundlanders are wicked storytellers, so where are all the bloggers? I know of a few serious Newf playas in the blogosphere, like Candice Walsh and her kickass travel blog Free Candie (fancy new website alert!), Dave Sullivan and his Narcissist’s Revenge, and Drew Brown, the pride of Grand Falls-Windsor, who blogs for VICE and makes me hate politics a little less every day. Maybe they’ll come get some jam next year. Maybe they’ll bring Jam-Jams.

4. I like to write, but not as much as I like to entertain. You know, with my face. I think maybe I’d like to be a stand-up comedian when I grow up. Or maybe a lie-down comedian. I could just lie down in a bed on stage and make jokes while writhing around like misses in American Beauty, but with potato chips covering my girly bits instead of rose petals. Or maybe I’ll be a fireman.

5. “BlogJam” sounds like “log jam” which is what you call it when your poop is too big to flush so it jams up your toilet. I didn’t learn this at BlogJam. I just wanted to put it in here because it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want, bitch.

6. I enjoy saying bitch and I will keep saying it. Guys. We are taking back the word bitch.

7. The tools are no good if the writing is no good. You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway (he’d be a shit blogger anyway), but content is king. A fancy website with wicked widgets and plugins and graphics can bring the horse to water, but give dat dere horsey some decent water to drink, luh. That analogy makes no sense whatsoever but I don’t give a fuck, Rae just shit herself in the bathtub, I got bigger problems.

8. That being said, some sweet graphics can go a long way. Look at my slideshow (COMING SOON SWEAR TO GOD), designed by the whimsical Mira Howards. If you’re a blogger with good content looking to take things up a notch, find yourself a young (or old — it’s possible) graphic web designer or WordPress whiz who’d be willing to give you a good rate (because you’re probably poor), to make your site look a little more sparkly-boo.

9. Don’t get caught up in the numbers and likes and comments. It’s all about engagement. I rarely get any comments on my blog, but I get lots of feedback on my social media channels where I share my stuff. I may be married, but I am engaged to a whole bunch of other people. ME DA WHORE.

10. People don’t mind when you say fuck a lot, if there’s a point. Points can have more impact when there’s a fuck in there. There will always be some people who’d prefer you say fudge, but there are also some people who prefer to walk around with shit in their pants. Everyone is different. You can’t please everybody. Carry on.

11. Food bloggers are sharp as fuck. I wish I had a food blogger friend like this “food nerd” who would take me to restaurants and teach me the difference between a garbanzo bean and a chickpea. JOKE PAUSE!

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12. Not every blog SHOULD be a book, but every blog COULD be a book, so if you think you got a book in you (ouch, paper cuts) then go for it and see what happens. There are still seven or eight people in the world who buy paperbacks. Publishing is a hard ol’ racket, but even if you self-publish and sell 20 copies, YOU WROTE A FUCKING BOOK, MAN. Give ‘er.

13. Some awesome bitches put the ABLE in disabled.

14. The Fucking Facts is a brilliant blog name. I’m going to steal it from Kaleigh Trace when she’s off giving one of her blowjob workshops.

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Murphy, Downs and Trace. We go by our last names now, like MacGyver

15. Moms control the economy and therefore rule the big ass world with our big fat juicy asses. You need us on your team if you’re going to win. For reals.

16. Some people are very kind and smile a lot. I like those people. They make me want to be less of a bitch face. Adam Purcell sponsored my voyage across the Gulf when other corporate sponsors said they had spent all their money on Post-It Notes. BlogJam creator Renee Downs is a beaming golden sun with rainbows for legs.

17. A blog can suffer growing pains, change direction, evolve. A blog is flexible. A blog is Play Doh.

18. It’s okay to be a woman and all about the money. I wouldn’t mind being this woman. Her name is Debbie but I like to call her CHA-CHING.

19. When it comes to privacy, you make the rules. Use your instincts. (Unless your instincts are shit, then ask someone else with better instincts for advice. Hopefully your instincts are good enough to know when your instincts are shit.)

20. If you want to talk about your kids on the Internet but don’t want people to know their names or faces, just stick some Star Wars heads on them and call ’em Chewy and Vader. That way, instead of stalking your little Dick and Jane or Jack and Jill, people will just become obsessed with finding out what Chewy and Vader really look like. I’ve been trolling for Mike Tanner‘s kids for three days straight now.

21. You can have five Christmas trees and wear pearls and a cardigan and a barrette and still be a fucking ninja. I already knew this, but Virginia Fynes reminded me.

22. Virginia Fynes is the perfect name for a DIY craft blogger. Be such a terrible shame if her name were Ulga Buggerboot.

23. There are many, many technical things I could learn to improve my blogging product but probably won’t because I am a sloth. Oh look, a raisin in my clavicle, mmmmm.

24. It’s okay to laugh about anxiety, and hemorrhoids.

25. Men’s rights bloggers only show up online, I guess. Probably for the best.

26. Do you feel that? It’s vagina time. It’s girl o’clock. Avocados were all the rage these last couple of years, but now it’s time for the ladies. Like this hilarious frigger, this amazing mutha, this smarty pants, and this rad missus right here. There are many, many others. And they all have tits!

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27. It’s genius to open with a potty mouth mom and close with a (self-described) queer disabled sex educator. People will show up on time and stay till the end. Loves the weirdos, they do.

28. Eating juicy Nova Scotia strawberries on a white duvet with a baby who still uses her pants as a toilet is probably not the best idea. But twat odds, Batman.

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29. If you’re taking your tot away on a conference when The Wiggles are in town, make sure she doesn’t find out about it.

DA FUCK, MOM?!

DA FUCK, MOM?!

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My baby girl is sexier than yours.

I just have one question. Why can’t you find a shirt with a dinosaur on it in the girl’s section of the clothing store? Is it because dinosaurs were all male? EUREKA! So that’s why they all died out. Because they were all penisauruses and couldn’t reproduce. Now it all makes sense.

Nothing makes sense.

This week at CBC.ca, I answer this question from a viewer: Why does the world insist I dress my baby girl like a whore?

Okay so that’s not how she worded it, but whatever. Have a look at my answer.

And then have a look at this sexy baby bikini. Because you can be too old for a two-piece, but you can never be too young.

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She ain’t heavy, she’s your kid’s mother, bitch.

My audience is comprised of mostly humans, and the vast majority of those are female. That’s just who my milkshake brings to the yard: women, moms, and grandmothers — with comments, questions, LOLs, OMGs and WTFs. But on occasion, I get words from dudes. I don’t mean those misogynist gentlemen who I want to fight with my pointy elbows. I do get those, but I’m talkin’ ’bout legit, logical, law-abiding, non-creepy men. Hearing from guys brings me great joy, to know they are following along, having a laugh, supporting the vaginas in their lives, and hopefully even understanding their partners a little better.

And then there’s “Dave.” A few weeks back, Dave asked me for advice on how he could gently encourage his wife to lose weight, now that their son was nearly a year old. He already knew certain tactics would be a bust: leaving a thigh-master on the doorstep, calling her and pretending to be Trevor from the gym with a free membership, giving her a gift certificate from LuluLemon, installing a chin-up bar in the bedroom doorway, giving her broccoli instead of flowers. So, what’s a Dave to do? Oh Dave. Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave. DAVE DAVE DAVE DAVE. DAVE DAVE DAVE DAVE…ETC. FOREVER TO INFINITY

See, this kind of question, for me, is a gift from the gods. He wasn’t being insensitive on purpose. His wife’s body is different now, and his brain and his penis are still trying to make sense of it all. I get it. But that does’t mean he didn’t deserve a good tongue-banging. Truth is, the answer was very simple. It’s the four-letter word that makes the world go round, and it is NOT kale.

Click on this ridiculously long link (there must be a better way, CBC) to watch me give Dave a two-minute piece of my mind, while swinging around a pickle. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/motherfumbler-how-to-get-a-mom-to-drop-the-baby-weight-1.3254627

Amazing screen grab:

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Lovesick

My husband and I have been together for more than a decade, but yesterday was the first time we’ve been sick at the very same time. Stomach flu. Thanks a lot, Max. JERK.

In between the pooping and puking though, there was something kind of sweet. As anyone who has been married longer than 24 hours knows, marriage is a little bit like war sometimes. Yesterday, we were like two wounded soldiers on the battlefield, lying lifeless, looking into each other’s weary eyes, the sound of gunfire off in the distance. The in-laws had come and swept the kids away from our filthy cesspool, so there were no distractions, no chores, no responsibilities. Just the two of, united in gastrointestinal anguish.

“I’m hurting all over, are you?”

Oh my god, he asked how I was feeling. Sweet, sweet man.

“This is the worst.”     “It really is.”

Holy shitballs, we agreed on something. We are the same person. We are ONE.

Feeling a little better last night, after a whole day of not eating, we both craved the same food. We sat together and ate chicken fingers with mayonnaise. And halfway through, we both agreed it was a mistake. WE ARE SO IN LOVE.

At least until tomorrow when we both go back to being healthy idiot people.

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Who Gives A Mother Fuck

In case you were in a coma when the August edition of The Overcast came out…

Have you heard about the new Care Bear? Her name is I Don’t Give a Fuck Bear, and moms (the ultimate caregivers) are modelling themselves after her.

Okay actually it’s just me so far, but it’s bound to catch on because WE MOMS CARE TOO MUCH, about too many things: the house, the homework, the clothes, the cooking, the activities, the appointments, the parties, the presents. Not to mention having to care about how our tits look all the livelong day.

Enough with the caring, Florence Nightingale. That shit will kill you. Nobody notices half the stuff we fuss over anyway, so why bother? It’s time to take care of you, Mommy. By just not giving a mother fuck. Allow me to illustrate.

My house is messy and not a shit do I give. Sticky floors happy kids or whatever the fuck that coaster says. Fuck coasters.

There’s a spider living inside the couch and I don’t give a fruit fly’s fart. It can spin me a custom body bag for all I care.

The carpet does not match the drapes in any imaginable scenario and here’s a quarter to call someone who cares.

Our kitchen table is a catchall and I don’t give a shit sandwich. You can wipe the jam off your face with a sock, or Batman’s cape, or the cable bill. Choice – now that’s something I care about.

There are Star Wars stickers all over the walls and care I do not. There could be worse things on the walls, like blood that connects us to a crime scene, or…oh god no…Caillou stickers.

My husband hates how I overload the dishwasher, but so what if something comes out dirty? It’s clean dirt now. Go care about genocide or ISIS or something fer fook’s sake.

I don’t care that my son is wearing those pants with that shirt and dem dere socks. He looks like a homeless bayman and…hold on, my I don’t give a shit senses are tingling.

I don’t care when people think my baby girl is a boy (because she’s not dressed in pink.) I care so little, I don’t even bother to correct them. I also tell them her name is Paul.

We don’t go to all the birthday parties and the only thing I care less about is – oh wait, there’s nothing I care less about.

The dog and the kids are in our bed half the night and I don’t care because soon enough the dog will be having a dirt nap and the kids will wish we were dead. On my nightstand is a tall glass of I don’t give a fuck.

I don’t send cupcakes or goody bags to Max’s class on special occasions. Hold on let me write that down on my list of things I don’t give a fuck about.

I’m constantly sharing photos of my cute kids and I don’t give a flying fishcake if it’s making y’all gag. Go look at some ugly shit instead – maybe some warthogs or some scrotums.

Sometimes we go to bed angry. I can’t help it if you’ve been a dickweed all day. We’re not going to be happy every single second. VOCM cares; I do not.

I really don’t give a tinker’s cuss about having it all, leaning in and all that. I’m just doing my best and if this is as good as it gets, then I guess that’s pretty fucking good.

Caring less about crap allows me to focus my Care Bear Stare on things that matter: my tires are on right, our helmets fit, there are vegetables in the fridge and books by our beds, and we talk about stuff – like how to treat people, our dreams for the future, pizza, and how you can’t say the F word till you’re a grown-up.

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What This Marriage Looks Like

This is not a picture of our marriage. It’s a picture from our wedding, but not our marriage. If this was a snapshot of our marriage, there’d be a giant shark fin cutting through the water behind us. And that blue boat would be full of whores instead of oars. And written on that blue boat would be Fuckery of the Sea.

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This is not a picture of our marriage either. The only thing about this photo remotely like our marriage is the rickety wooden fence that keeps the cows from falling into the ocean. I don’t actually know how that’s like our marriage. But I imagine one day, making love is going to be like shaking around a pillowcase full of old sticks.

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Frankly, I’m glad our marriage doesn’t look like this. The couple in these pics are dip-shits who think marriage goes like so: meet, fall in love, get married, die in each other’s arms like the old couple in The Notebook, find each other in heaven and do it all over again with angels as bridesmaids and tin cans jangling off the back of a Care Bear Cloud Car. The people in these pictures are super cute, but mega dumb. Heaven is paved in clouds so those cans aren’t gonna make much noise. Amateurs.

We’ve learned a lot these seven years, because we’ve been through a lot these seven years. See, in between the marriage part and the death part is a whole bunch of other crap that can fuck shit up royally: sickness, betrayal, resentment, failure, sleep deprivation (babies!) bad luck, bad backs, bad vaginas (babies!), too much talking, not enough talking, and way too much staring at our goddamn phones. So don’t let my funny social media posts and the photos of my sexy as fuck husband and our two beautiful children fool you. Our marriage is a roller coaster ride that stops at random times with us hanging upside down and screaming. And if we’ve been through this much in seven years, imagine the stuff still to come. Mommy.

I have doubt about everything. EVERYTHING. But it’s alright because doubt is the most natural thing in the big fat world, because nobody knows anything for sure. Basically if you don’t have doubt, you’re an idiot. So, of course, when it comes to marriage I wonder what the future holds. What will happen when the kids are grown and we’re here staring at each other with nobody sitting between us asking for a popsicle?

Only a fool would say they know it’s forever. I have friends going through yucky divorces after seemingly perfect lives. So on this, our anniversary, I’ll just say is I HOPE it’s forever. I THINK we have what it takes. I KNOW I won’t go down without a fight.

So that’s why I chose this picture to mark the occasion today. Seven years ago, I was sitting on a chair in the middle of the room at the Legion, a cheap garter hugging my thigh inside my gown. Springsteen’s “I’m Going Down” starting playing and my new husband slid onto the dance floor in a scuba mask and snorkel. The perfect prop since we had completed a scuba diving course together, and because, well, places be wet.

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It’s a picture of our marriage. Of happiness, but the messy kind. The crazy kind. The kind that fights, and worries, and struggles, and stays. The kind that gets better, eventually, shaped and textured by the bumps along the way. The kind that sometimes even has you on your knees in a scuba mask, gasping for air. Not like that. Well maybe like that. Depends what you’re into.

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