Thursday, June 28

today I am...

:: feeling ::

:: sick of this lingering summer cold, the stubborn gunk, the stubborn weak cough

:: worn from lack of sleep, nights made short on both ends: awake and buzzing at bedtime, babe awake well before sunrise

:: static and stuck, cooped up by this heat, like a lazy lump

:: boredom and inertia

:: needing ::

:: some gentle, kind movement; then some vigorous, endorphin-generating movement

:: a jump into the cold river to shake these sedentary blues

:: an icy margarita

:: some time away from screens

:: some inspiration and motivation

Sunday, June 24


this weekend was a bit of an odd duck
still reeling from re-entry after our trip to victoria
having difficulty finding my bearings, but...

there was a much-needed solo mama outing to starbucks
and things were put away and spaces cleared
and i finished reading a good book
and my little bear spoon-fed himself some granola and yogurt
there were tacos and good coffee and quarters scattered in the car when we needed them
the opportunity to be a student and teacher, reminding me of what I know
making my way to feeling strong and beautiful again
then the joy of coming home and finding my boys happy and dirty
and the prospect of haagen-dazs and an early night

how was yours? (playing along with amanda.)

Thursday, June 21

open mic night

While I was in Victoria, BC last week, my best dear friend Matthew invited me to an open mic night at Solstice Cafe. He has become quite active in the local slam poetry community and I was eager to see him in action. 

I have quite a history with this place. I have attended numerous shows and readings there. I have read poetry there myself on several occasions. My husband launched his poetry chapbook there. We even held our wedding reception there. Most of that rests squarely in the past: I haven't written poetry in years, and don't think of myself as part of that crowd anymore. 

But a few hours before the show, Matthew started nagging me, asking me if I was gonna read anything. "Dude, I have nothing" I texted. "Liar" he replied.  Back and forth. I felt sure that the young hip slamming poets wouldn't want to hear the rant of a sleep-deprived mom in her mid-thirties. I thought of more and more good reasons why I couldn't read... until I decided to make them into a piece. The following is what I read last week at Solstice Cafe, when I didn't really want to and should've been in bed. Thanks, Matthew, for being persistent. I actually really enjoyed it.

Reasons Why I Can't Read At The Open Mic

Because I am not prepared.
Because I don't have a piece ready to read.
Because reading at open mics hasn't been my thing for years, and I'm afraid you'll notice.
Because I am hungry.
Because 16 months ago a bomb exploded in my life in the shape of a beautiful baby boy.
Because my friends are putting him to bed tonight for the first time.
Because I am crazily, dangerously, sleep deprived.
Because for so much of every day I feel like I'm teetering on the edge of the abyss, and it would only take the merest puff to send me tumbling over the edge.
Because when my son wakes up, again, in the middle of the night I say mean, horrible things to him.
Because the other night, I squeezed him too tight, and shoved him on the bed.
Because I am sorry.
Because I am scared.
Because I have never done anything this hard, and this beautiful.
Because I have gained so much weight I can no longer hide it, not even from myself.
Because I am angry, and sad.
Because so often I feel like a fraud.
Because my husband is such a better writer than I am.
Because I am afraid I'm not that person anymore, that writer person.
Because I am not always sure of who I am.
Because I have a cold.
Because I miss home.
Because I am angry at my mother.
Because I am tired.
Because I am so, so tired.
Because I don't think you want to hear about the neuroses of a new mother.
Because I just don't feel cool anymore.
Because even though I know I know being cool shouldn't be a thing that matters, it still does.
Because I don't belong here anymore.
Because I had my wedding reception here in this space, and I feel I should leave it on that high note.
Because I shouldn't feel like I have anything to prove to you.
Because I feel I have to prove everything.
Because I forgot to put on my fancy earrings.
Because my cool t-shirt is covered in stains.
Because I'm not sure I want to.
So you see, dear people, there are just too good many reasons why I can't read at the open mic. I hope you'll understand, and that you'll forgive me.

Note: I wrote this in the very honest and raw space of a mama who hasn't had a decent night's sleep in a week. Last week was crazy. Feeling much, much better now that we're home and getting some decent shut-eye. Still, it was both illuminating and scary to find out that the dark place of the worst of sleep dep is always only a few bad nights away.

Wednesday, June 20

Victoria, part two

Truly, there is no place like home. Home is where our daddy and our stuff is, and so home is where we sleep. While we were away almost-17-months-old Silas reverted to sleeping like a 6-month old: refusing to go to sleep any other way than being nursed into sweet oblivion, and waking up all hours of the night, screaming and demanding attention. It was awful. I was crazed with sleep deprivation, and all members of the household, except for the little one, got sick with a cold. But still there were plenty of wonderful moments: seeing old friends and old places with fresh eyes and an open heart, putting Silas in the stroller and walking everywhere, and peonies, oh the peonies. As that well-worn line goes, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. So as I work on gently re-entering my life at home, finding our rhythms, stocking the fridge that my husband deep-cleaned while we were gone (he missed us that much), here is another helping of some of those best moments.

A scene from Crumsby's Cafe, where I found a long morning's respite while Silas played with the toys and kiddos. (Coffeeshop owners take note: this kid-friendly approach works, and we mamas will spend all our money in your establishment if you provide us the means to drink coffee and write in peace while our kids are happily playing with your toys.)

Christ Church Cathedral, the mid-point of our walks to and from downtown.

Bubby Rose's, waiting for a cinnamon bun and a mocha.

Fave new scarf and trusty Birks.

Teeny Silas among the trees.

A lily in our friends' diminutive fish pond.

My old trails: Panama Hill. Be still my heart.


Last coffee in the pottery mug in my bestie's kitchen.

Low tide at Clover Point. (Friend Michael holding Silas.)

Last pit-stop before the airport: Habit Coffee.

Friday, June 15

peaks & valleys

:: valleys ::

-little man's sleep disturbed by new surroundings, west coast time and long northern days, resulting in extreme sleep deprivation for mama

-finding being a solo parent for 10 days even more challenging than I'd feared

-being unprepared for the cool coastal weather and wishing for warmer clothes

-missing our husband & dada so very much

:: peaks ::

-seeing old friends I've dearly missed, and introducing them to Silas

-strapping the boy in the stroller and walking everywhere: coffeeshops, playgrounds, downtown, the farmer's market, the ocean

-my friends' amazing shower & claw-foot tub

-cinnamon rolls & sour cherry danishes
at Bubby Rose's Bakery

:: linking up with Ink + Chai ::

Thursday, June 14

Victoria, part one

Silas gazes out the airplane window at the Rocky Mountains.

Island Farms on trend with its neon pink milk crate.

The back of Christ Church Cathedral.

St Ann's Academy, where we got married.

Peacock in Beacon Hill Park.

Brunch at Mo:Lé.

Peonies at Government House.

Lavender at sunset.

The amazingly kid-friendly Crumsby's Café in Oak Bay.

Tuesday, June 12

easing up

I had this epiphany the other day. It dawned on me quietly, while my son and I were playing in the hot afternoon sun. Yet it has already asserted itself as the kind of realization that moves mountains inside your head, and creates some space to breathe better and be more deeply at ease in your world. Want to know what it was?

Being an imperfect person does not make me a bad parent.

Spelled out like that, it looks kind of obvious. But for a very long time, I did not know this. I struggled with new motherhood and my perceived failings made me feel like a bad mother. But as I grow in confidence in this role, as I learn things about myself and how they affect me as a parent (this was illuminating), I have started to cut myself some slack. I do not expect anyone else to be perfect, and I have not required perfection of myself in any other area of my life. But wanting so much to be good for my son blurred my vision a bit. It became harder to see that my imperfections didn't make me a bad mother, simply a real one. Now I see that it is more important for my son to grow up around adults who are self-aware, who make mistakes, apologize, and try to do better, than for him to have a mother who is trying to be perfect and failing, and beating herself up for it. I'm breathing so much better in this new space where I am easing up on myself. My son--and everyone else around me--can only be the better for it.

Thursday, June 7

what I think I need

I've made no secret on this blog of the fact that I have really struggled in my first year as a mother. Yet, it was always quite evident to me that the source of my troubles wasn't my son. I saw that he was a perfectly fine little human: he wasn't the best sleeper, but he wasn't the worst; he nursed like a champ; he let other people besides me hold and comfort him. While it can't be denied that he profoundly changed and complicated my life, still I have to admit that most of the trouble I've suffered through I created for myself. As best as I can figure, most if not all of said troubles come to rest in either of the following categories:

1. I need to get my own stuff done. First category of problems has to do with trying to assert my agenda regarding what needs to happen in any given moment, while at the same time trying to tend to the needs of my child. Sometimes, this works brilliantly, and mama can meditate while baby gurgles on the playmat, or mama can empty the dishwasher while toddler eats Cheerios and watches Elmo. (Sue me.) But then there's a whole universe of moments in which a child clutches at my pant leg while I try to fix dinner, or by napping or not napping at the wrong times messes up trips to the gym. Karen Maezen Miller writes "If I were enlightened  I would know that things are still perfect whether or not I empty the dishwasher." I agree with her that there is very little that actually absolutely needs to happen in any given moment--save for tending to the very real and often urgent needs of a small person. Still, I have lived 33 years on this earth and have been able to do it my way most of the time for almost all of that time. Silas is still very new in my life. It takes a while to shift one's priorities, to recognize what's really important in any given moment. I am very much not yet enlightened. A lot of times, this burning need to do what I want to be doing stems from this nagging fear of being swallowed whole by the demands my child places on me. There's a little corner of ego that refuses to give up. But the odd time that, while in the center of this dilemma, I have remembered that pretty much anything can wait, and that my baby needs me first, the pain of being pulled in two directions lessened a little. There's even been a few occasions when I put down whatever it was that was so important, and went to read my child a book, or tickle his toes. Those were good times.

2. I need to figure this stuff out. The only thing worse than being up in the middle of the night--again--for the third time that night with a cranky kid, is being up in the middle of the night with a cranky kid and trying to apply one's sleep-deprived brain to the task of figuring out what to do to make this stop. Ditto with sitting down at the table with a toddler who's throwing every foodstuff you've prepared onto the floor with a look of disgust on his face. The pain of the situation itself, real as it is, pales in comparison to the anguished questioning of a desperate and confused parent. That feeling of it will never change, it will always be this crappy, I will surely die in this rocking chair holding this child who will not sleep. After you've been clocking in as a parent for some time, you start to realize that these little beings are in a constant state of flux, that their behavior, what works and doesn't work are always changing, and that if you can muster the patience to hunker down and wait out the phase, things will change. They may not get any easier, but in some ways they'll get better. If anything you'll be softer, will have lowered your standards, will have an easier time rolling with the punches. And one day, the hunger strike will end, your toddler will put broccoli into his mouth voluntarily, and he will, miraculously, sleep through the night. You will never have been so happy to get a 5:15am wake up call than after you have both slept through the night. Patience is a virtue: cultivate it.

I would love to tell you that the day figured out that most of my difficulties stem from stuff generated by my own brain was the day they all melted away. Far from it. But when I can remember all of this, I have a slightly easier time letting go of whatever it is I think I need, and instead I am able to attend to what the moment, what my child, does need. Which is usually a couple of deep breaths, a smile, a cuddle, and even more patience. Which I can usually manage without too much trouble if I don't think too hard.

Monday, June 4

the space between & the right stuff

I'm in a state of transition right now. Mother's Day Out has ended for summer vacation, and in a few days Silas and I are going on a trip. The old routine is no more, but haven't been able to find my summer groove yet because of our impending travels. My mother was staying with us for a few weeks, and just left yesterday. The days have been odd: I'm missing my regular touchpoints, my practice is all out of whack, there has been a conspicuous absence of blogging. And now Silas is transitioning to a new sleep schedule, one that will be better for everyone--well, for the parents anyway--but the ride is a little bumpy. Feels like everything is in flux. All in all, good things are happening, but it isn't the smoothest of rides getting used to the new normal.

This coming trip looms large. I couldn't be happier to be taking Silas to Victoria, British Columbia, where I lived from 2000 to 2007, and where many of the people nearest and dearest to my heart live. Not to mention one of my very favorite cities in the whole world. I haven't been since 2008, and I miss it terribly--the kind of missing that you can't really allow yourself to think about because if you did, you would start crying no matter where you are and what you're doing. So this trip is a joyful, joyful thing. But this joyful thing is also on the other end of a ten-hour, three-flight journey to another country, which I'll be navigating solo with my 16-month old. Hello stress! I've flown alone with him before, when he was 5 months and 11 months, and each trip had its harrowing moments but was overall just fine. But it's like traveling with a brand new baby each time since he grows and changes so much. This time, he's a fast and busy walker, and while he's also endlessly fascinated by the my iPhone and Kindle Fire, I'm worried that these won't hold his attention enough, that he'll want to get off my lap and cruise around, and that he'll shriek when I deny him this. Then I'll be that mom on the plane, the one everyone glares at. I'm terrified of being that mom.

So I'm pouring all my anxiety into packing. Packing for any sort of trip or outing is my superpower. I'll always think of everything, and pack it all super conveniently and cleverly. You should totally go on a picnic with me--I rock picnics. But I'm also very neurotic about finding the right thing: the right shoes (similar to these), the right bag (this one), the right book* to take on any given trip, and this neurosis is reaching new heights this time around. It's as if by choosing the right shoes, bag, snacks, I can preemptively smooth out any potential hurdle that may present itself during the journey. Like the right accessory will magically conjure a kind and helpful TSA agent, or a partially empty flight so we can have two seats to ourselves. Which I know is silly. I'm trying to talk myself into a space where I know that, no matter what decision I make regarding my luggage or travel outfit, things will work out fine. But having what I perceive as the right stuff helps me immensely to feel prepared. To know that, no matter what comes my way, I have enough baby wipes, hand sanitizer, and Chex Mix to handle it. All the same--wish us luck. It can't hurt.

I expect blogging will be light here while we are away. I'll line up a few more content-heavy posts, and likely put up lots of photos while I'm away (this would be a great time to check out my Instagram feed!) And while I'm super excited about this trip, about all the people we'll see, places we'll visit, foods we'll eat, I might be looking forward to being back just as much. I'm a homebody and a routine-loving girl. Looking forward to finding our summer groove in a couple of weeks!

*Seriously, I'm going crazy getting book samples on my Kindle, and I simply don't know what to go with. This one? This? This? Do you have any suggestions?