Plight of the Working Mother

Put the baby on your back and go.

Oh look, a couple hours of spare time to blog. It was hiding behind the creative brief I brought home from the office, which was behind the dog’s dandruff shampoo, which was behind the heap of dirty laundry, which was behind an enormous sign that says YOU’RE FUCKED.

As a working mother with a writing racket on the side, I yak about that elusive work-family balance a lot. And I’m not the only one. You’re probably tired of all the yakking about it. (Blame Anne-Marie Slaughter; she started it.) I’m tired of all the yakking and I’m one of the yakkers. I’m pretty sure in my next life I’ll be coming back as a yak.

Something has occurred to me lately though: with my ongoing blog and upcoming blook, this is more than a work-family balance. It’s a work-family-art balance. (Yes, blogging is an art. Just go with it.) That’s three things to juggle, not two. Technically, two is not even juggling; it’s two things switching back and forth from one hand to the other, and that’s not so terrible unless you’re the drummer from Def Leppard.

Working and parenting is tricky enough, but when you also have to get your creative rocks off on the side – a kind of work that usually doesn’t pay the bills and if it did you wouldn’t need to have a “real job” at all and we wouldn’t be having this conversation – it gets even more insane in the membrane. A trifecta of fuckery. You have to squeeze your art into your crazy ass life somehow. Because sacrificing it for the family and the real job is not an option. You didn’t choose this passion. This is who you are. And if that part of you doesn’t see the light of day, the whole shebang goes to shit.

My art can’t be my real job. I’m not J.K. Rowling. I don’t even have any advertising on my website. I don’t have the luxury of just writing. Some best-selling authors don’t even have that luxury! I don’t have a big fat trust fund either, and my husband is not Donald Trump (thank christ). The arts is a tough place from which to bring home the bacon. Unless taxidermy is your art and pigs are your specialty. You know, because bacon.

At an event last Friday afternoon at LSPU Hall hosted by the St. John’s Women’s Film Festival, I listened to four women talk about their art: finding their voice, putting themselves out there, facing their fears. Two of them were singer-songwriters, two of them were filmmakers, all of them were creative, funny, and determined.

The topic of family came up, as it always does among breeders. Making a living in industries like music and film doesn’t quite jive with the schedule raising a family demands. So when you meet women who are rocking their creative careers, you have to wonder – how do you do it all?

Well, three of the four women didn’t have kids. And the one who did – I’m pretty sure she didn’t have the real job to complicate matters. They were all amazing and awesome and I will be stalking them henceforth, but technically they aren’t doing it all. I’m sure they’ve got their hands full, but they’re not juggling the trifecta of fuckery.

I got a couple nice chunks of wisdom from them on the matter nonetheless.

1. You don’t have to live your life in segments.

New York singer-songwriter-mother Amy Rigby has been rocking out for more than 30 years. When asked about being a musician and a mother at the same time, she replied: You just do it. Women often think they need to do the career thing first, she said, then stop all that to have the family. Why do we have to live our lives in segments? Why can’t we do it all at once? You just do it. Rigby had her daughter when she was in her twenties. She kept making music. She played with bands. She played solo. She persevered. Today, her daughter plays in her own band. Amy did it all, as a mom and an artist, without sacrificing one part of herself for the other.

Moderator Elisabeth de Mariaffi — award-winning author, mom and marketing maven at Breakwater Books (now that’s the trifecta I’m talkin’ ‘bout!) — added: You can’t separate the family and the work now. It’s all wrapped up in one. Our children come out of our bodies, but they’re forever attached.

2. Put the baby on your back and go.

Funny, these words stuck with me more than any others (hence the title of this post) and they came from one of the women who didn’t have kids – Bay d’ Espoir native and filmmaker Latonia Hartery. (Yes, Latonia, a beautiful white woman from Bay d’Espoir, swear to god.) But if she does have kids one day, she plans to do what the women in the north do, at least metaphorically – sling the baby on her back and go. Part of me was like: Bite your tongue, Shaniqua. Just wait until you get that wailing squawk-box in your arms, and the mastitis and hemorrhoids and broken vadge and sleep deprivation and depression take hold and see how your plans change. But that part of me needs to shut the fuck up. You go, Latonia. I had lots of post-baby problems and a dead dad to boot, and I came out fighting. When you go up to accept your Oscar one day, just pass it back to your baby to hold for you while you do two-handed fist pumps.

The other day, a coworker said to me, “I think you may be a robot.” I guess because I’m into so much, I couldn’t possibly be human. I wish I was a robot or a computer — something that could calculate a formula for balancing the real job, the family, and the writing racket. Alas, I am lowly human, so my formula is: hold on for dear life. I think the secret may be accepting imperfection: embracing the chaos, facing your fears – of rejection, of failure – and just going for it. And staying in the game no matter what or who comes along – like a little creature whose entire existence depends on you and your nipples. It’s a juggling act. You’re going to drop things. (Preferably not the baby.) But you pick up the pieces and keep going. You do it all, but accept the reality that you may not have it all. Maybe doing it all the best way you know how is having it all. Maybe I should stop talking now.

I will soon be editing my first book and I’m terrified. How am I going to find the time to perfect this thing? This thing that will be set in stone and OUTLIVE ME. Well, I’m not gonna. Beyond the real job and the parenting, there are only so many hours in the day. So I’ll bust my ass and do my best and have some fun with it and hope it’s good enough. And if it’s not, fuck it. This moment sponsored by the great philosopher, Jeff Bridges: “Live like you’re already dead, man. Have a good time. Do your best. Let is all come ripping right through you.”

Would I be a better writer if I had more time to write? Would I be a better mother if I spent more time with my son? I honestly don’t know if the answer to these questions is yes. Maybe there is a reciprocity there, one role feeding the other, amounting to this mediocrity you’re enjoying right now. (Thank you for being here, by the way. Really.) Maybe having a baby made Amy Rigby a better songwriter. Maybe Latonia Hartery’s back-pack baby will make her a better filmmaker. We think motherhood is stealing away the time we would have spent pursuing greatness, trying to keep up with the men. But maybe it automatically makes us greater. Maybe the baby on our back is actually a jet pack.

 

8 Comments

I’ve fallen in love with someone.

I usually like ‘em tall, but this guy stands at just three and a half feet. He loves trains, Legos, chocolate milk, and farting in the bathtub.

Christmas is an important time of year for me. Not because of the whole baby Jesus thing, but because I get to spend some quality time with my baby boy. (Side joke: What’s the one thing Max and Jesus have in common? During both their births, there was an ass in the room. Just kidding, honey.) After 350+ days of working and parenting and trying to ignore the voices in my head screaming “bad mommy!” and “bad wife!” and “bad daughter!”,  I need this breather. Ten days to sit around in fat pants, eat cookies, and open my eyes to the joy right in front of me – not the joy-to-the-world yuletide crap, but the joy (the boy!) that did spring from mine virgin loins. (Just go with it.)

Max is three and a half now, so we’ve had four Christmases together so far. I know that math seems fucked up, but during his first Christmas he was, in whole-number years, age zero. Eight months, to be exact. Picture a drunk midget in a crusty sweater. I tried to find a photo of him under the tree or on Santa’s knee, but all I could find was this one, taken right after sweet baby Hannibal ate his first liver.

His second Christmas, he was a tree-tipping toddler on crack. Don’t be deceived by the angelic face below. Lucifer and Danny Bonaduce also looked like this as children.

Last year, our third Christmas together, he was a bumbling two-year-old with about 20 words in his vocabulary. Just enough to be dangerous – and perpetually frustrated. In spite of his toddler angst, this ginger sure could take a great ginger snap.

This Christmas, at age three and two-thirds, he was absolutely perfect. All the holiday hoopla was finally starting to make sense to him: why there’s a tree in the living room, why we make him sit on the lap of a creepy old dude in a red suit, why he needs to be a good boy all year — so Santa doesn’t fill his stocking with coal from the quarry and leave the trains he asked for at the North Pole, of course. Yes indeed, all the lies and deceit were finally starting to come together in his wee little head. High fives.

For ten days, without work or distraction, I got to see who Max really is. And man, he is really something. I mean seriously, your kid is a total loser compared to mine. I’m kidding. Please keep reading.

Last Christmas, asking him to sit with me and write a letter to Santa was like asking a honey badger to make me some tea. This year, we cozied up together at the kitchen table and he thoughtfully dictated his letter to me. He asked for three things only, never changing his mind. Some kids’ lists are epic and change daily, those greedy and indecisive little monsters. At the end of his letter, he reminded Santa to bring food to the “boys and grills who don’t got no food.” Not just any food though – “raisin bread and suckers.” That’ll cure the cholera. He also insisted his letter be signed, “Love, Muffin.” Don’t ask.

Not so long ago, he was a rude little jerk. I’d take him to the store where some nice sales lady would grin at him and say, “Aw, would you just look at the curls!” I’d smile politely while Max scowled and darted his foot toward her face. I once took him to a clinic and when the nurse came in to greet us Max said, loud and clear, “I DON’T WANT THAT ONE.” He had been tended to by a younger, prettier nurse during his previous visit and Pervo Ginger wanted an encore. Now, he is incredibly polite. (Yes, in spite of me.) His reaction to every gift he opened this year, be it toys or tube socks, was an enthusiastic “Wowwww!” And he remembers exactly who gave him what. As I was helping him pull on his Thomas the Tank Engine slippers last night I asked him, “Do you remember who gave you these slippers, buddy?” I thought he might say Santa, without thinking. “Aunt Robin,” he said. She sure did.

There was a time when he resisted all affection. He was just too busy pulling the dog’s tail and swinging from doorknobs to hug or kiss or cuddle. Now, he is full of love and gives it away freely. Ask for a hug and before you’ve finished the question he’s halfway across the room with his arms open wide. He does a quick lipstick check first though; if your lips are bright red, fergetaboutit, hooker. When I help him out of his pajama shirt in the morning, his hands holding onto my shoulders for balance, he comes in for a hug just because he feels like it. Sometimes, mid-embrace, he softly says, “mommy…” like he has just rediscovered that I’m his mom and he’s pretty pumped about it.

He is smart. He can count to eleventeen. He doesn’t have his alphabet down pat yet and he still thinks we live in “Torbag,” but I know he’s sharp as a tack. One day when I heard him say “fucker,” I immediately scolded him: “Now mister, what did you just say?” As quick as a fox, he replied, “Sucker, I said sucker.” Yes, I’m sure you did. Working on your Santa letter, I suppose.

And damn, he’s hilarious. His latest schtick is taking off all his clothes and marching around the house chanting, “hand-some, hand-some, hand-some…” Clearly, his band instrument is the kazoo. It’s like some baby bootcamp hazing ritual taking place in our living room.

Yeah, yeah, I know every parent says their kid is the bomb and of course we’re all right. But I think it’s important for me, of all people, to declare my kid’s awesomeness because I spend so much time likening him to Satan. It’s not that I didn’t love the little devil before now. Of course I did. But up until recently, it was like loving a raving lunatic. Imagine trying to cuddle a school of capelin, or dress a huge harbour tomcod, or kiss a flatty on a prong. (Sorry – fish theme.) He was just doing what toddlers do: exploring a strange new world with all his ginger might – limbs flailing, teeth gnashing, mommy cracking. I guess you could say: I loved him completely, but I didn’t completely like him. Maybe he was always this rad and I’ve just been too busy to see it. Hard to see things clearly with your head up your ass. Or maybe I’m finally starting to forgive him for tearing me a new one.

Don’t get me wrong, Turbo Ginger has his moments. And I’m glad; where else am I going to get my material? I don’t plan to write my second book about motherhood’s rainbows and butterflies. It’ll be much like my first book where the only butterflies are the moths that took up residence in my vaginal scar tissue.

Max made this my best Christmas ever. You know, if I ignore the fact that my dad is dead, stuff like that. Funny I should mention that though because, feeling about Max as I do, I better understand how my dad felt about me. And how my mom stills does. (Let’s leave my domestic shortcomings out of this, mom.)

I’ve experienced all kinds of love. Love among friends. The love of men. Many, many, many men. Call me a cynic, but it’s never a sure thing. Shit happens. I think the love between my dog and I is pretty pure, but I also know she’d drop me like a wet mitt for a grilled cheese sandwich. This love for Max is perfect. It’s not without frustration and chaos and shit and puke, but somehow it’s perfect nonetheless. He’s perfect. And to think, this perfect little person entered the world via my trés imperfect fur biscuit. Oh the irony.

These days, I come home from work, more excited than ever to see him. I flash him a silly look and watch his lips stretch across his face, revealing every tooth in his wooly little head. His eyes narrow and twinkle, bracing themselves for the quake of his belly laugh that’s certainly on its way, possibly with a fart in tow. Oh Max. He at once picks me up and makes me fall to pieces.

One day he’ll think I’m a total dork, and run off with some beautiful girl and break my heart. So I’m going to enjoy this while it lasts. I’m going to keep hugging him and kissing him and twirling him around the living room to songs like this one, stepping on train tracks and Legos while an excited dog nips at our ankles. It’s a song about lovers, but I think it works for us too. I’m his mama and he’s my baby — the mother bloggin’ love of my life.

20 Comments

New Year, Same Hot Mess

2013. Sounds so space age. But where’s my hoverboard, McFly? Why is earth the only planet I’ve been to? (I so want to see Uranus.) Where’s the cure for cancer already? And why am I still wiping my own ass? Like, GAWD, it’s 2013.

Technology has spoiled me rotten. Almost everything is right at my fingertips and available in a heartbeat. So the things that are still sluggish drive me to utter madness. Breakfast time alone is infuriating. Take the kettle. No really, take it. Even the electric one takes light years to boil. Every time I get a cup of tea, I sprout a chin whisker. And the toaster – has this invention evolved at all since it popped up (ha!) in 1919? By the time my bagel is browned, I’m ready to stick a fork in there just to end the agony.

And then there’s the redheaded rascal at the kitchen table demanding jam instead of butter and his toast cut into squares instead of triangles, who has his shirt on backwards and no pants, who runs and hides when it’s time to brush his teeth – a fate worse than death. And I’m running late for work, of course. So my morning dialogue with him sounds a lot like this: Come on, Max. Hurry up and get dressed, Max. Eat your breakfast faster, Max. We’re late, Max. We need to get going, Max. I can still see you behind the sex swing, Max. (Yeah, right. My husband wishes.)

The fly on the sugar-bowl shakes its head in disgust. I hate me too. Max is just being a kid, savouring the taste of raspberry jam, marvelling at the shape of his bread, swinging his naked legs under the table to the circus music in his head. And I’m here trying to rush him through the simple joys. Hurrying him along so we can get to what’s next. Slap me with a frying pan.

So now that it’s a brand new year, I guess my resolution is obvious: slow down and enjoy the moment. That’s what you’re expecting me to say, right? That’s where you think this is going. And perhaps that is where this should go. But alas…

As my last blog post might suggest, I’m not going to resolve to change my ways very much at all. I am what I am. I was born in a flame. Or the back of the Bonavista North Bus. Or something.

See, I’m fast. I scurry. I do look a lot like a squirrel. (Insert “nuts in mouth” joke here.) I hate golf but love tennis. I’d rather salsa than waltz. I hate melancholy music. (Adele can wail but she makes me want to kill myself every thirty seconds.) I type a gazillion words per minute with all the wrong fingers. The first time I attempted to bake bread, I grew so impatient waiting for the dough to rise I stabbed it 37 times with a cleaver.

It’s not that I don’t stop and smell the roses. I see beauty all around me. And I sit and ponder the meaning of life all the time. But then I realize my sitting and pondering has made me late for the Sit and Ponder Conference and I have to go turbo on everyone’s ass to get there.

And it’s not that I can’t relax. Oh I can relax. I get out of bed at the last possible moment. I am the mayor of Dreamland and the cloud people need me to lead them.

In a nutshell: life is chaos, it’s all my fault, but I just can’t help it so bite me. I’m a busy woman who is chewing what she has bitten off as fast as she can. I’m a hot mess, always in a rush to get where I’m going, dragging poor Max behind me. But damn it, I’m doing it. I’m getting there. Max is happy and smart and wonderful.

There is room for improvement for sure. Setting my alarm for 20 minutes earlier sure seems like a good idea. And driving the speed limit, that seems wise. But at this dawn of a new calendar year, I’m not going to make a grand pledge to change. To get my shit together so I can slow down and savour the moments and not smash a toaster. Because this motherfuckery works for me, mostly. So, save a few tweaks to spare my boy mommy’s madness, I’m going to resolve to keep making it work for me. A more ambitious pursuit is bound to fail because this bitch is a squirrel.

So my new year’s resolution is to keep clipping along. Typing fast. Working hard. Laughing loud. Raising my boy the best way I know how. And, wherever we go, leaving a trail of fire behind us. Word to your mother.

 

2 Comments

Dig if you will the picture…

I’m on a picnic blanket surrounded by four-leaf clovers.

Holding a baguette.

And a green apple martini that replenishes itself every 11 minutes.

I’m reciting poetry to my husband. And wowzers – does he look good in a sweater vest. He also looks amazing in that Robert Downey Jr. costume.

Our perfect child is sitting between us, perfectly still, eating perfect little sandwiches (crusts and all) that I made this morning after my night shift at the orphanage.

Our dog is lying at the edge of the checkered cloth that I crocheted last night in between writing chapters of another bestselling novel. She is freshly bathed and groomed, is not begging for food, and she does not have shit crusted to the hair around her asshole.

Our picnic basket is brimming with money. (Good luck carrying this sucker away, ants.) Because there is not enough room at the bank. And our mattress is too full of other things, like tender moments and passion and stuff.

My cell phone is switched off, because this perfect moment shant be tainted by a beep or a ding. I’ll check my messages later to learn about my promotion, and lotto winnings, and that my father’s death was all a hoax, and men can finally give birth.

And hot diggity, is someone hiding the melons from our picnic lunch inside my shirt? Look at these puppies. Sculpted (and reshaped post-breastfeeding) by the hand of God.

There is a God. And she is soooooooo nice.

And look – a unicorn! With a horn made of peppermint! Come here handsome fella, bend over, let me lick your skull tusk.

Uh. Oh.

Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I see an argyle-clad Ironman coming at me hard and fast. “Wanna see my unicorn? Huh? Huh? I got a horn for ya…”

Followed by a sugar-starved zombie toddler screaming “CANDY! ME WANT CAN-DEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

And a rabid mutt with a dirty bunghole grabs my baguette and bolts.

Robert Downey chases after her, and the Savage Patch Kid too.

It’s just me.

On a blanket.

My martini, unscathed.

Ah. That’s more like it, beyotch.

Click for free reality jolt.

 

 

0 comment

Oh yeah, give it to me baby.

Hello Halifax, my old friend. Dalhousie: Class of 2000. Apparently you can get a decent job with an arts degree. I’m here on business. And no, my meetings are not at Ralph’s Showbar. (Those are called meatings.)

It’s tempting to reenact the ol’ downtown shuffle of my 18 — er, 19 — year-old-self. But none of my skirts are short enough. And I’m a little rusty at grinding Greek men. It just wouldn’t be the same.

Most of the old stomping grounds are gone anyways. Merrill’s? No more. JJ Rossy’s? Long, long gone. My university days are a distant memory; but a hint of cheap tequila on the Argyle Street air.

It’s just as well. These days, as a busy working mother with a toddler who wakes up every other night at 3am yelling “Apple juice!”, or “I like cheese,” or “Boobieeeeeees,” I have a whole other idea of pleasure.

And I have found it. Sweet solitary ecstasy. Right here in downtown Halifax.

I am going to straddle the chubby one, front right, in 3… 2… 1…

This blog post has been brought to you by the letter ZZZZZZZZZ

3 Comments

Parents Need Dreams Too

It’s 2012. Sounds so space age, doesn’t it?

As a child in the ’80s, I used “2012” in my short stories as that far-off, fictional year when humans would be colonizing Jupiter and driving hoverboards like Marty McFly.

Instead, here we are, only slightly altered since last year, but another year closer to death nonetheless. And we’re still asking ourselves: What do I truly want?

And don’t say, “I want to be happy.” That’s a given. That’s like saying, “I like puppies.” Of course you like puppies! Who doesn’t? Well, Jeffrey Dahmer… but, who else?

The real question is, what do you want to do before you croak, before you expire like sour cream in the back of the fridge? I’m not talking about a bucket list of bullet-point experiences. I’m certainly not talking about things you want to buy. I’m talking about your passion, your work, your “thang” — the pursuit that will probably dictate the theme of your eulogy.

For some, the answer is as easy as pie: “I want to bake pies!” Sweet action. Bake your buns off, bee-otch. Give Martha Stewart a run for her honey-pecan pumpkin pie.

Maybe you just want to fish more. Become one with the great outdoors. Catch a rainbow trout so colossal, Cuisinart will invent a bigger frying pan and name it after you. (That one’s for you, honey.)

Perhaps you want to be a CEO with a corner office and a parking space that says, “Park Here If You’re Awesome.” Go for it, smarty pants. The world is your oyster — shuck the shit out of it.

Or maybe you just want to be a really, really good parent. Awesomesauce. Spit ’em out, keep ’em happy (and alive); there is no higher vocation.

Myself, I want to be an author. Stop laughing.

I want Angelina Jolie to play me in the movie based on my book, The Adventures of Turbo Ginger. I mean come on Angie, we look exactly the same.

I want Tina Fey to stumble upon my broken twat and ask me to co-write the screenplay for Reflections of a Broken Vagina. Ticket sales will be through the pelvic floor, and then the roof.

With my earnings, I’ll live (and write) worry-free for the rest of my days and pay Max’s way through The School for Freaking Awesome Children. (Screw the gifted.)

In the meantime, I’m having a blast making advertising. I plan to be the first person to create a billboard made entirely of human hair.

People ask me, “Where do you find the time to do it all?” Sometimes it’s because they’re impressed, more often it’s because they’re secretly scorning me: You should be nurturing your mini, not your manuscript. Bad mommy. Bad, bad mommy.

Here’s how I find the time:

I don’t clean. It’s not an episode of Hoarders up in here. But to my mother’s disappointment, mommyhood and Hollywood come before cleanli…hood…ness.

I write like you shit. It comes naturally to me and doesn’t take as long as you think. It helps that I rarely use words beyond seven letters long. #mesostoopid

And I occasionally neglect my family. Luckily, I married a patient man who’s a really good dad and thinks dust bunnies are kinda cute. If he snaps one day and leaves me, I’ll hire Vincent Schiavelli to play him in the movie.

Clearly, in addition to all this mommy blogging I have to actually be a mother. I mean, where else am I going to get my material?

I’m a good mom. But I am more than that and I’m not going to feel bad about it because the Society of Breastfeeding Nazis thinks I should. (And before you go crazy cakes, I suckled my boy for 10 months and have the empty water balloons to prove it.)

Why not have aspirations beyond the diaper pail? By doing what we love — whatever that may be (as long as it’s legal) — we’re setting an example for our children. We’re saying, Do what you love, baby! We don’t even need to say it; we just need to do it. Live it. Our children watch and learn.

Every parent is unique, but we all share a common goal before we go tits-up: To die with no regrets. (Other than the regret of accidentally swallowing that rat poison that’s now killing us.) And that pursuit — or avoidance, rather — is a complicated thing.

Think about it. If I ignored Max tonight to work on the next great Canadian novel (just go with it) and I died suddenly tomorrow, I’d probably regret not having spent those last moments with him. You know, if I was still alive to feel that sting of regret.

But if I die next week without having at least half-heartedly pursued my childhood dreams, passing it up in order to be the best damn mother the world has ever seen, I’d probably regret that too. You know, if I wasn’t already decomposing.

Remember Randy Pausch? The theme of his famous Last Lecture was “achieving your childhood dreams.” “The inspiration and the permission to dream is huge,” he said. Among other things, he wanted to be an Imagineer with Disney and he made it happen, all while being a great husband and dad to three young children. Randy succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2008 at the age of 47.

Balance is everything. The challenge is to find the time and the energy to pursue your dreams — however grand or humble — while taking care of your greatest dream-come-true, your family. It isn’t easy. Time is scarce. So is money. And unlike mine, not all dreams can be pursued with little more than a computer and spellcheck. But isn’t it sad to hear parents say things like, “Oh, I’ve got no time for that now, with the kids and all.” Dude, don’t let your children be the reason your dreams dried up and died. Let them be the reason you kept them alive!

Contrary to corny philosophy, I don’t think you should “live like there’s no tomorrow.” If I did that, I’d be cuddled up in bed with my three favourite people (well, two people, one furkid) and never leave the house except to buy poutine, chocolate, ice cream sandwiches and candy. What? It’s Armageddon! Screw Canada’s Food Guide! I also don’t subscribe to the whole “you’ll never hear a dying person say they wish they had worked more” concept. Maybe that’s not always true. I bet it’s not true for the dying guy who had the cure for cancer but was so busy with the kids he never found the time to formulate it. Especially if he’s dying of cancer.

Randy Pausch’s inspirational Last Lecture was about achieving your childhood dreams — and enabling the dreams of others. Whose dreams did he most enable during his mere 47 years of life? Surely it’s those of his children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe. He enabled their dreams — not just by being a good dad, but by being a dreamer himself.

So, would I be a better mom if I didn’t have all these time-sucking pipe dreams? Maybe.

I’d like to think I’m a better mom because I have them.

 

3 Comments

And all he wanted was a train.

It’s been forever. I’ve been busy not trimming the tree, not decorating the house, not wrapping the gifts, not baking the shortbread, and not giving a shit. Turns out not doing things is really quite enjoyable.

I mean, I’m not totally unprepared. There’s a tree over there in the corner.There’s a little orange ukelele in the closet with Max’s name on it. And there’s half a dozen lights strewn on a scraggly bush on the front lawn. Life is good. Glad tidings are nigh. And no, mom, I don’t have my “Christmas cleaning” done. 1956 called; they want you back.

My saving grace? Online shopping. Well, there’s not much saving about it. Not in the monetary sense. But it does save time, and that’s everyone’s most precious commodity. It gives me access to things not locally available. (I just ordered an elephant tusk and a stamp licked by George Clooney’s nephew.) And that excitement of receiving a package in the mail – c’mon, you know you love it. Every time I get one of those cards in my mailbox that says “you’ve got a package,” I pee my pants a little.

Here are 10 things I found online and ordered for Max for Christmas…

1. An adjustable weighted vest for all my future excursions to the mall avec Turbo Ginger. The leash disguised as a teddy bear backpack just doesn’t cut it anymore.

 

2. A body pillow to keep him warm and comfy at naptime.

 

3. I just couldn’t resist this cute little toy. I mean, what is it? It’s like pig-shaped poetry – open to interpretation. Is it a joystick with an armpit? Is it a Chia Pet from a home full of smokers? What a wonderful mystery to foster imagination.

 

4. Nobody likes socks for Christmas. But how about these spiffy duds? Retro chic. Max is sure to be the most talked about kid at daycare.

 

5. All the Woodys and Buzz Lightyears were sold out, so I got this Toy Story 3 character instead. Max is going to love it. You know, once the night terrors subside.

 

6. Every kid has a ride-on car or jeep. But how many kids can say they ride around in the brain of a Cyclops? Hang onto that googly retina, Max. Let’s go scare some toddlers!

 

7. Nothing says I love you like a gift made with your own two hands. How about a BEST FRIEND made by hand? I’m gonna crochet Max a lifesize pal named Colin.

 

8. Pint-sized scrubs – why didn’t I know about these before? I ordered them in green and blue. I mean, Max may as well get used to them – in all colours. Obviously he’s going to be a doctor.

 

9. But not just a regular doctor. Max is going to be an internal organist. So I bought him this interactive educational toy. Go ahead, son, yank out those intestines! Who wants to play hide-the-pancreas? Who wants to reenact the final scene in Braveheart?

 

10. And what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t give him a few books, right?

And all he wanted was a train.

 

 

1 Comment

Perfect Chaos.

Some people think I’m the perfect mother. Okay nobody really thinks that, except Max when I’m giving him candy for breakfast. But you might think I’m the perfect mom, if you only saw the photo above. Go ahead – look at it. That shit could be on a can of ginger juice. What’s that – there’s no such thing as ginger juice? There is now. Someone just invented it, inspired by this picture.

An ad woman for the last decade, I can say with certainty – this photo is not entirely true to my brand. I should be fired. No, I should be branded with a branding iron that says YOU SUCK. I need a brand-aid for my brand suckiness. It’s okay – I’m with the brand. Sergent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Brand of Suckage.

What is brand?, you ask. Good question. Your brand is your unique identity, your personality, your projection into the great big world. It’s how everyone else perceives you. In marketing, brand is everything. And in life, too. In everything you do and say and choose, you’re living your brand. You don’t even realize it. Nor should you. It should just be.

The key to a successful brand is consistency. So if your brand is “ginormous asshole,” have at ‘er. Be an asshole from dusk to dawn. Don’t stop midday and help an old lady cross the road. Push that geriatric down! I’m kidding, obviously. Old ladies are the cat’s ass. Ironically, they also usually have lots of cats. Anyways, if you’re an asshole, forget about your brand; worry about your soul.

If your brand is one of integrity, however, let’s be friends. Integrity is doing the right thing, living life with complete honesty, and being true to yourself – even when nobody is watching. That’s when people will follow you, enjoy your company, and buy whatever you’re selling. Because it’s the real fucken deal.

So what’s Mother Blogger’s brand?

Well, if you looked at the photo above, missed the wordplay of “Mother Blogger,” and read none of my toilet-mouthery, you might think my brand is “the bliss of motherhood.” Hilarious. You’d probably think I have it all. What a riot.

But hey, maybe I do have it all. Cute kid. Handsome husband. (Missing from photo. Gingers only.) Picture-perfect scenery. Infinite wit and modesty. Great hair. I mean seriously, it’s like a nest of spun gold for a magnificent phoenix.

This photo is shitting you. It is wool over your eyes. This photo is a glimmer of serenity in the chaos that is my life, captured by a trained eye behind a very expensive camera that can make dog shit look like bars of gold. In a moment of weakness, I chose it from about 70 shots. Vanity bitch-slapped Authenticity and ran off to fix its lipstick. Seriously, would the perfect mother/domestic goddess bring THIS to a baby shower?

Exactly. But I will have you know – it was delicious. Made from scratch. And by that I mean I was scratching my ass as I made it. (Kidding.) I wonder who ate the piece with “shit” on it. They were eating shit.

Here are some other shots from our family photo shoot that might be more representative of yours not-so-truly…

See. Total chaos. But I’m still smiling. And look at Splash – true love in a fur coat. Okay you’re right, it’s not ugly enough.

How about this…

Huh? Right? Tears. This is how the photo shoot ended. This is how a lot of things end. But my God, he’s cute, ain’t he? Even when he’s wailing. And hot damn look at my hair. It’s a golden rope ladder straight to heaven.

Aha! Here’s a doozie…

I should make that face my signature look. It looks like I’m about to chomp the tip off a carrot.

Truth is, I kinda dig my chaos. My busy job, my messy house, my dog who looks like a cow and eats like a pig, my hockey nut husband, my matchbox house, and my wild child. It’s a ride at the fair. It’s reality. It’s real. And it’s all mine. Life is nothing if not a struggle.

And you dig it, too. Either because my chaos makes you feel better about your own desperate life. Or you just like to point and cackle at mine because you’re a horrible person. Whatever. Bring it. I’m happy to have you along for the ride.

So. Which pic should be the header on this Mother Bloggin’ website? Which snap best represents who I am and what I write about? Here are a few other contenders. Not so pretty. But honest. And from what I can tell, you don’t come here because I’m hot. (Have you seen my boobs lately? Ask my husband. Ew times two.)

You come here because I show you what motherhood really looks like.

 

10 Comments

Look at my big pasty white ass.

I had intended to call this post, “Seeing Beyond the Cellulite”, but given the response to my titles as of late, I thought the chosen headline would be more compelling. (Marketing 101.)

I used to look like this in a swimsuit.

I'm the ass in the middle
Meoooow x 4. I'm second from right.

I will now attempt to read your mind: Look at missus posting pics of herself in a swimsuit. What a WHORE.

Stop looking at it then, SLUT. See, it’s like a car accident; you just can’t tear your eyes away. And honey, there’s junk in the trunk, trust me. I’ve always had a glorious booty. But now… it’s just not that bootiful. Not without fabric wrapped tautly around it, deceptively squishing it all together.

Now don’t get me wrong, the lovely lady landscape has not changed that much, even after gaining 40 pounds and producing an 8-pound baby. “You haven’t changed THAT much, babe,” says the husband, confirming that I have indeed changed. Asshole.

Where’d the other 32 pounds of baby bubble wrap go? I’ll attribute three or four pounds to the placenta, which Andrew took a picture of and showed me just moments after giving birth. Thanks for that, honey. I had endured the most unimaginable pain to produce a pillow sham made of raw caribou meat. So proud.

Most of the chubs evaporated with my breast milk; Max sucked it out of me like a rabid wolverine pup. And the rest of it – just a handful – went to that place where my ass says hello to my thighs, which we’ll call Hammityville. (People who dare to tread there are terrorized by the ghost of a scary, sabre-toothed pig.)

Now all you meatier mamas out there, don’t be hatin’. Even when you’re a small person, the shift in certain anatomical areas can be traumatic. And that’s just what this is: a shift. Some places inward, some places outward, all places downward. In a nutshell, it’s not the hard body of my 23-year-old self. It’s an increasingly mushy mass of lard clinging to an exhausted, hunched-over skeleton. A big stick of butter that’s been left on the counter to ever so slowly melt away into a wet, yellow blob.

Now I realize it’s not a great time to buy a swimsuit, but that’s exactly what I was shopping for this week. Summer is done like dinner, but I intend to keep Max swimming regularly at the pool. I am so not a Mom Jeans kinda girl (despite the matronly flats I wear because I think heels are somewhat ridiculous and also dangerous), but I need a swimsuit that’s a little more mother and a little less stripper. Going to the Aquarena in December in a hot pink push-up bikini top and a string bikini bottom with a palm tree on the butt just seems a little silly. I once hoped to never say these words, but… I need a one-piece. 🙁

So I skip off to Sportchek to try on swimsuits. (I’m a sporty thirty-something; I don’t need to shop for a swimsuit at freakin’ Tan Jay.) As expected, there were slim pickins: ironic wording when you’re looking for something that will make you look slim, which none of these do. Who designed these things – Gumby’s mom? Where do I shove my goods? Into my belly button? Shag it. I had some woolies in my butt crack, so I used the butt floss to at least solve one of my problems. (And no, I did not try the suits with the rushing. It hasn’t come to that… yet.)

Hmm, this one’s not so bad, I think. Amazing how Lycra™ can flatten out your tummy…

…and thrust your excess ass-flab out into the world!

It reminds me of when Nan used to bake bread. She’d mix it and knead it and leave it to rise in a big bowl on the table, covered in a dishcloth. Many hours later the dough would be spilling out over the sides of the bowl. That bowl couldn’t contain her expanding buns of sticky dough. Likewise, this swimsuit couldn’t contain my gelatinous buns of juicy ginger heinie. The white meat poofed out from around the elastic a little too offensively for my liking. If the elastic was a little less, well, elasticy, all would be well. But something’s gotta give. There’s not enough fabric here to make a fu*ken coaster.

And for some added perspective, the lighting in this change room was made to help you look tanned, and this mirror was clearly bought from a circus liquidation sale – one of those skinny trick mirrors. (Soon enough I’ll be seeing the bearded lady staring back at me.) If not for this trickery, I’d probably be in here slitting my wrists with my car keys.

And Sportchek would never sell a swimsuit. When I went into the change room, I joked to the young male attendant. “I’ll probably be coming out of here very angry.”

“You all do,” he replied.

Clearly, none of us is ever completely satisfied. We are idiots and can’t even help it.

My problem: I need a medium to large bottom, and a small top. One-piece suits just don’t come that way. Otherwise they’d look this like:

They do not.

I have junk in the trunk, and nothing on the roof rack. What little was up on the roof has migrated to the trunk. My husband can’t even fit his golf clubs back there now. Not even his putter. Not even his balls.

Come to think of it, I’ve always wondered why my husband, a self-declared “breast man”, ever chose yours truly of bitty boobs and ample badonkadonk. (Oh come on you know I chose him but you get the point.)

So I buy the one-piece that fits my top half, because I can’t have my wobbly, deflated water balloons slipping out of my armpit holes.

Which means the bottom half of the suit is a bit too small, and Nan’s Loaf is assaulting the world around it from all sides.

F*ck it.

Here is my theory. I am 33.5. This is nature’s way of preparing me for what is to come. A little bit of cellulite here, an extra fold of skin there. Am I thrilled about it? Hells no. But I accept it, because hey, it could be worse. (And it will be. Check back in 10 years.)

Besides, I have distractingly fabulous hair on my side. Sure my posterior is bigger, but I can make my HAIR bigger to divert the eyes. If I combed my hair our with a brush, you’d mistake me for one of the Pyramids of Egypt. And who wants to look at someone’s ass when there’s a wonder of the world before their very eyes? Exactly.

I imagine myself in 30 or 40 years, old and crusty and decrepit. But from behind and fully-clothed, all you see is my flowing, golden hair. Onlookers expect a young Celtic dame to be on the other side of that magical mane. But I whirl around – in slow motion, of course – and reveal the face of…

Mama. And then they throw me from the train.

Maybe I’ll let the hair go grey to soften the blow. But I don’t know… long, flowing GREY hair is more like a smoke trail than an asset.

So yeah, it’s a gradual decline into fugliness, and thank the baby Jesus. Think about it. If you were a red-hot sex goddess, went to bed, and woke up looking like Bea Arthur, you’d die of sheer horror. This way, we accept our downward spiral a bit at a time, and nobody needs to kill themselves.

Just let it go, ladies. Do what you can to stay the best you can be, but don’t be bat-shit crazy about it. Is it really that important to you to look like you’re 21 in a two-piece? (Especially those of you in my neck of the woods where summer is but a fleeting glimpse and one swimsuit could last a lifetime.) Perfection is unattainable, especially as we get older (which we all are getting, by the way, no matter how much Oil of Olay you’re bathing in.) Those 21-year-olds are just a couple steps behind us; we all face the same fate, we’re just on different timelines. And you think celebrities look like that naturally? They work their butts off because their careers depend on it. (And they have chefs who make lettuce taste like pizza.) Imagine that pressure though. The one day they’re spotted looking a little thick, they’re on the front page of the National Enquirer with a starburst that says, “Celebrities who are actually Hippos!” No, thanks.

How many 70-year-old women are mega hot? Exactly. It’s just not possible. Okay, maybe it is for Raquel Welch; have you seen that b*tch?

Wow. And she’s ginger – holla! She looks good right? “For 70.” She used to wear a fur bikini. Not no mo. I saw her on Oprah last year. She looked amazing, but I am pretty sure she was wearing a head-to-toe Spanx bodysuit.

So listen up all you 20-30-40-50 even 60 year olds out there. All you mothers out there whose bodies will never, ever be quite the same. Take care of your body for the sake of your health and your self-esteem, but take your flaws in stride. And be glad you actually have a body at all. (Some of us, for example, are dead.)

And for God sake don’t let it keep you from living. Work with what you got. Wear that dress. Shake that ass. GET IN THE GOD DAMN POOL. Because guess what – in 10 or 20 years when things are significantly worse for wear, you will look back at your former self and say “damn, I wasn’t so bad.” You will hate yourself even more, not because of how you look now but because of what a self-loathing douchebag you were back then.

Don’t let the cellulite go to your head. Better to have it on your sweet ass.

1 Comment

To breed or not to breed: reflections of a broken vagina.

I’m looking at Max lying in the bathtub, lying on his belly, his cute little arse cheeks nipped together like an angry muffin.

“Drink water,” he says as he takes a gulp and grins, his upper lip sporting a thick bubble-stash.

“Drink water, drink water…” He repeats it again and again until I warn, “Now Max, you know you’re not supposed to drink the bath water. It’s dirty.”

He looks at me for a long time, his orange eyebrows entwining to form a question mark. One day soon he will ask: But mom, if the water is dirty, why am I in it?

Touche, little dude, touche.

He is growing so fast. He’s the full length of the bathtub. He has a moustache for God sakes! Holy crap, it must be time to have another baby.

I feel a sudden ache in my uterus and a burning in my loins. Desire? Hells no. That’s just the lifelong repercussions of squeezing a human out of my magic muckle. Oh the horror.

So… do I spit out another youngster or not? I am torn. And oh how I wish that was not a play on words.

This calls for one of the things that my husband dreads more than penis-kabobs: A LIST. Don’t worry, honey. It’s not a honey-do list… unless it concludes with “do me”, in which case I’m confident you’ll have no problem following orders. It’s a list of pros and cons. To breed or not to breed: that is the question.

PRO: Max gets a brother or a sister.

CON: I have to grow said brother or sister inside my body and get it here via the Va-Jay-Jay Express.

PRO: The Bearded Oyster is already a dive, so why not close shop altogether and go home with a nice souvenir?

CON: I am well-healed and back to my pre-prego weight and pretty pleased with it, despite the extra stomach skin that makes me look like an accordion when I sit down. (Crop tops prohibited.) Why mang all that merchandise up again?

PRO: I get an extra human to produce grandchildren for me.

CON: I have to worry that said human will produce grandchildren at age 13. Coming up next on TLC… 13 and Pregnant! Followed at 10:30 by Nanny Nightmares: My Kid is a Little Tramp.

PRO: We get a baby to love and cuddle.

CON: The baby is a demon who keeps me up all night and ruins my shirts with puke and poop.

PRO: If it’s a boy, I get to reuse all Max’s perfectly unsoiled clothes.

CON: If it’s a girl, I have to buy a bunch of pink clothes so our daughter doesn’t look like K.D. Lang.

PRO: We get to make another living, breathing masterpiece. Max is way too cute to have just one of him. Exhibit A…

CON: Maybe Max used up all the good DNA and this one is doomed to get the leftovers: big nose, big ears, third nipple, and eye of Cyclops.

CON: Every time I do a jumping jack at the gym, I pee a little.

PRO: Once I’m pregnant, I can eat what I want, because I’m going to get fat anyways. My pet saying as a prego? “Quarter pounder with cheese combo, six nuggets on the side and an apple pie, si vous NOWWWW.”

CON: My ass will resemble the broad side of a barn for at least 6-9 months, with the possibility of permanent barnliness; even the barn will mistake me for one of the livestock.

Need proof? This was a full-size clydesdale…

CON: Bye-bye, MILF t-shirt. Hello, saddle. My career as a swimsuit model is so over.

PRO: Cha-ching! Another kid – another $1,000 from the Newfoundland Government.

CON: Cha-shit! The average cost of raising a child in Canada: 14 zillion dollars. And that’s just the Goldfish crackers.

PRO: Wayne and Rosena Murphy get grandbaby #10 for a nice even number. Shirley Combden gets grandkid #4… maybe a girl this time?

CON: Not gonna happen, sister. The walls of my uterus are painted blue. Last Thursday, I pooped a dump truck decal and a handful of gravel.

PRO: I get a year off.

CON: I get a year trapped in a time warp, relying on EI which doesn’t cover shit, not even shit catchers. Yesterday, I noticed the price of diapers has gone up: $41.99 for a box of 100. Shooooooot. Today, Max is wearing a dishcloth.

PRO: Andrew could take paternity leave, so I could go on working.

CON: I may be inclined to strangle Andrew with my rope-like boobs.

CON: Yes, breastfeeding deflated my boobs and now I have to wear a super-duper-push-up bra just to keep the suckers out of my pockets.

PRO: I get to go to Reel Baby movies at Empire Theatres on Thursday mornings.

CON: No I don’t, because I have another kid at home ruining my life.

PRO: I can get one of those kickass double strollers.

CON: I need one of these damn double strollers. Can I borrow 20 bucks? How much can I get for this MILF t-shirt?

PRO: Max can use the baby as a pillow in the stroller. Bonus.

CON: Andrew and I will be so busy being parents, we’ll forget about being a couple.

PRO: We’ll be so busy being parents, we’ll forget about our relationship problems.

CON: I will miss football season, my only social life, unless I get real sneaky like last time. (Played ‘til I was 12 weeks preggers, throwing up in my mouth every time I bent over to snap the ball.)

CON: I set my career back a notch or two. Come on people, you know it’s true. One of the reasons there’ll never be a female President: we’re breeders.

CON: I’ll never find the time to write a book. *POUT*

CON: Andrew is not the doting type. So when I start getting fat and uncomfortable, I can look forward to NOT getting my feet massaged.

CON: My dad was sick when I was pregnant. He died when Max was nine months old. So I associate pregnancy with impending doom. Textbook psychiatry. I can diagnose myself because I am a doctor part-time.

CON: First trimester nausea. Once, on my way to work, I threw up in my hat.

CON: Second trimester semi-chubbiness when people aren’t sure if you are having a baby or if you just had a big lunch. Awkward.

CON: Third trimester bulbousness when people mistake you for the Penguin from Batman, followed by the awesome sensation of carrying a bowling ball in your underwear.

CON: Vagination Ruination: the Sequel.

CON: The Meat Curtain Massacre, Part Deux

CON: Hotdogs in Hallways: The Final Poke

CON: Wow, that’s a lot of cons. To top it off, maybe one of my kids will be a con. Max is already terrible at sharing, and goes ape-shit for toys at the store. Just steps away from kleptomania.

PRO: Kids keep us young, seeing the magic of the world as they discover it for the first time. My boobs may sag, but my spirit will soar.

CON: “Whatever, Trevor!” Yours truly, Broken Twat.

PRO: Max will have someone to help pick out my casket.

PRO: Max won’t be the only one humiliated by his mother’s maniacal musings.

25 Comments

1 2