Monthly Archives: January 2012

Childhood

I had a pretty idyllic childhood.  I’d say “I guess I had a pretty idyllic childhood” but I’m not guessing.  It really was.  Seriously.

We moved from a small city to a small town the summer that I was three and a half.  My brothers were eleven and seven.

I have a few memories of our corner of the small city, probably mainly due to photos, but there are definitely things I remember:  the fact that we lived kitty-corner to the neighbourhood playground, the fact that we had a dual-armed spinning sprinkler, the fact that we used to put our bathing suits on and play outside during thunderstorms, the fact possibility that the street sweeper used to spray us with water, the fact dream that I could float down the stairs from the second to the main floor.  Oh, and the playground had the coolest horse-type ride-thingy that I have ever seen, as well as an awesome spinny-carouselly thing and a tall slide.

I have many memories of our small town.  From before Kindergarten through to grade 13 and beyond.  My dad went to work, my mom stayed home (until we needed cable tv, then she went to work).  We went to school, spent summer days in town at the lake or slightly out of town at the beach.  We did our groceries at the little italian store downtown, where the proprietors knew us and would babysit while my mom shopped.  My friends and I played in the backyard or next door in the vacant lot; my brothers and I climbed trees and rode bikes; we made snowmen and went tobogganning.  We had picnics, barbecues, a week at sleep-away camp in grade 4.

My small town remains my hometown; remains my home.  Sometimes when I watch movies and I know that people think “nobody grew up like that,” what with picnics and summers at the lake and mom at home ironing I want to shout at the top of my lungs, “I did!  I grew up like that!”

These are the types of memories I want BoyGenius to have.  Well, times have changed, though, haven’t they?  We live in a large town outside of a large city.  We don’t have a downtown where we can shop.  We don’t have vacant lots around and if we did BoyGenius wouldn’t be allowed to play there without supervision .. he can barely ride up and down the sidewalk in front of our house without HardWorker freaking that I’m not running alongside him!  We live near a lake, but our beach is usually closed due to bacteria levels, so there’s a bit of a problem with that memory as well, although he’ll swim in any water, anywhere.  We don’t get as much snow as we used to, but we make the most of it when it shows up.  He certainly has trees he can climb in our local park, and he’s very good at that. We have a sprinkler and a slipe’n’slide but we also have water conservation.  We have thunderstorms that I’d love to take him out in but HardWorker thinks we’ll be hit by lightning.  Most playgrounds don’t have spinny things or even slides higher than 5 feet these days.  BoyGenius hashad picnics and has even seen me iron on occasion.  BoyGenius doesn’t have siblings, so that memory won’t happen.  He’s got friends, good friends even.  He knows my lake, my beaches, my backyard and my trees … he knows some of my memories of these things and I’m hoping that I’m helping him make his own; not just memories of my childhood but his own of a perfect childhood.  But how can I ensure that he’ll remember his childhood to be as perfect as mine was?

Isn’t that what we want for our kids, for childhood to be every good thing it’s supposed to be, with none of the hurtful, abusive crap that seems to be lurking around every corner?  Can we keep our children safe while still allowing them the possibility of an open-to-new-experiences, carefree, memorable childhood?  Why does it seem like an impossibility sometimes?

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What’s in a friend?

Friends are easy to make but hard to keep.  Everyone says that, right?  Or someone famous said it.  Or someone famous heard everyone saying it and then said it and now everyone thinks that someone famous said it .. or vice versa.  It doesn’t really matter.  Because it’s not necessarily true.  For some people friends are easy to make.  For some people friends are easy to keep.  For me, acquaintances are easy to make; nobody is easy to keep.

I don’t really know how to define friendship.  Is it a relationship with someone for whom I will always be available?  … or is it a relationship with someone who will always be there for me?  I think it’s supposed to be a fine balance between the two but how many times in your life can you actually achieve that?  If you’re lucky, you’ll have at least one person in your life who can balance you while you balance them right back.  It’s amazing when it works.  Truly.

As a s-a-h-mother it’s actually trickier than you might think.  You meet a lot of people in the school yard; on the school/parent council; at the playground; at gymnastics.  You laugh with them, you discuss your kids, your kid’s/kids’ teachers, even exchange a recipe or two.  Does that mean you’ll be friends?  No.  Your children are in the same class.  Your children have the same birthday.  Your children get kicked out of take swimming lessons together.  Friends?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Your children are best friends and want to see each other all day, every day.  Friends with those parents?  It could happen.  Quite often it does not.  Here’s the other side of the scenario:  you get along great with so-and-so’s mom.  You have lots in common, lots to talk about but not a lot of time to get together.  Let’s set up some playdates!!  Fabulous idea.  Except for the fact that your son likes playing army and blowing things up and my son likes building with Lego.  OR you have a daughter and my son doesn’t want to be a prince every. single. time.  Even better, your kid bites my kid and then storms off slamming her bedroom door because my son doesn’t want to be a prince.  Sigh.  Oh well, on to the next parent.

I know what you’re thinking.  Didn’t I have friends before I had a baby?  Some.  Don’t they have kids that could concievably be friends with BoyGenius?  Some.  But you know what?  Where did those friends come from?  Work.  School.  Hometown.  Let’s take a look at these groups and see what happens.

  • Work.  I have in past, made some good friends at work or through work.  I say good friends because they are people who have been through things with me and with whom I have shared good times and bad.  However, we met at work, an artificial community.  We all came in from various corners of the city or from outside of the city in which our office was located and worked together.  We had work in common.  We had hatred of work in common.  I no longer ‘work.’  Some of them do, some of them don’t.  Some have children, some don’t.  Most of them don’t live in my little corner outside of the city.  I am still in touch with many of them, thanks to e-mail, facebook and cell phones.  I still get together with some of them, we have wonderful dinners and evenings out.  It’s not the same as when you all go for a drink at the end of a hellish day.  It’s good, but it’s sporadic.
  • School.  I went to school.  I made some friends.  Post-secondary education is another artificial community.  You meet people from all over the world who happen to be studying the same thing as you or living in the same complex as you are.  You study, you party, you make friends, you go on trips, you take people home with you, etc., etc.  Once you’re done your education (or leave to go to another post-secondary institution … or none at all) you hope that the connections you have made with these people will last.  They might.  They might not.  Thanks to the aforementioned technologies, I am in touch with a number of people I met at university.  Not many.  Come on, you’ve only got four years or so in this particular artificial community.  Grade school and secondary school are another story.  For many of us, those communities are far more real simply because those are the communities we grow up in, those are the people we grow up with.  So I’ll leave my thoughts on those people to the “hometown” category.
  • Hometown.  Well.  As already mentioned, for many of us our hometown(s), our public/grade school, our highschool communities are our true communities.  That’s how it is/was for me.  I’m from a small town.  I went to school with the same classmates from Kindergarten to grade 13.  That’s a lot of years.  I consider those people to be my friends.  Good friends.  Close friends.  Lifetime friends.  I hardly see any of them.  They are all over the world.  They are still at home.  They work or they don’t.  We keep in touch or we don’t.  With many of them, it doesn’t matter.  I can get together with them and talk for hours about what we’ve all been doing, what our siblings are doing, who’s parents are still alive, remember that time in grade 8 geography?, whatever happened to..?, and isn’t it funny that you’re a grandparent already and my kid is only 7!  It’s really nice to get together with a group or with a couple of individuals.  Some of these people I have known for over 40 years.  As hard as that is to believe, it gives me a warm feeling inside whenever I think of it.  These are the people who knew me “when.”

So again, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking if I’ve got all these friends, how can I possibly be lonely?  I don’t know.  All I know is that the friends in those three categories are mainly not here.  The friends that are here, now, are those people in the schoolyard.  And while that community may be BoyGenius’ main community, it doesn’t seem to be mine.  When I walk through the yard, or to the park, or into the school I am greeted by at least 100 children who know me and 20+ parents/caregivers and almost all of the teachers and staff … (I feel like The King of Kensington) and my child is only in grade 2.  There are only a few I would actually call friends and perhaps two that I would call good friends.  There are only a few who are also s-a-h-parents.  We don’t always have time to get together.  The time that you do have, the time when your kids are in school, is the time that you’re supposed be doing laundry or vacuuming or getting groceries or painting the bathroom.  Once school is out, your “free time” is up because then it’s time for snack, homework, dinner and bed.

Friends are easy to make but hard to keep?  I think I’ve found that they’re hard to make but not quite as hard to keep.

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weekends were made for …

I’m not sure why, but it seems like weekends are the worst thing going.  BoyGenius is home.  HardWorker may or may not be working on a Saturday, but is home for sure on a Sunday.  Family time!!  What’s the problem, you ask?  Isn’t it great that you’re all home together, you ask?

You know what?  No, it’s not always great.  I have family time every day.  I’m not so sure I need more of it (concentrated, no less) on the two days I don’t have to get showered, get BoyGenius out of bed, get breakfast, get snack ready, get BG dressed and out the door, get laundry and groceries done, get BG home for lunch, figure out what to feed him, get him back out the door after said lunch, get dishwasher emptied and reloaded, try to figure something out for dinner, get BG home from school, argue with him about playdates, console him because nobody asked him over, get dinner started, watch Jimmy Two Shoes, feed the cat a hundred times, either feed BoyGenius without HardWorker being home or wait until HardWorker gets home then get the talk because BG should have eaten already, feed myself and HW, figure out where HW’s work shirts are, finish loading the dishwasher, put the leftovers away, get BoyGenius to get ready for bed, push him up the stairs, sing him at least 4 songs and say his prayers, wake up HardWorker who has fallen asleep before BG, then come down and watch some tv.  Isn’t that family time?

So take that whole scenario …. factor in HW being home all day and not feeding herself or BG and wondering why I’m not doing it …. and you’ve got my weekend!!  Weekends really were made for Michelob.

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Some background

Choosing to have a baby was an easy decision for me.  I always wanted a baby; I never gave a second thought to having a husband/spouse/partner/whatever it would be.  That part never really played into it … not that I thought I would be a single mother, just that that part of it seemed to be, you know, like the little details that fall into place on their own.  The having the baby part was the centre that would hold no matter what else was circling around it.

Once I was in a relationship that seemed like it would last more than a couple of years, I figured it was the right time to move forward.  I went through some discussions with HardWorker as she had never even given a thought to having a child.  We went ahead.  Well, I went ahead.  I wasn’t just going to find some random guy to sleep with and hope for the best, I didn’t have a special enough male friend that I could approach for a donation so I went to my family doctor for a referral and got myself an appointment at a fertility clinic.  After the intake person/doctor at that clinic tried to tell me that they would choose the sperm donor for me (some crap about ensuring that the baby would look like me since it would have a hard enough time with two mothers), I decided to get myself in to see a different Dr. at a different clinic.  It was a totally different feeling and the people were wonderful.  Unfortunately, I had no luck in the pregnancy department.  I opted for a different Dr. at a different clinic.  Again.  This guy was the bomb!  And if he was away, his partner in the office was another bomb!  We tried a few different things.  Leading to in vitro.  No luck.  Let’s try some other stuff.  Another in vitro.  No luck.  Well, sort of luck sometimes.  It is absolutely, positively possible to be “a little bit pregnant.”  Really sucks when it doesn’t stick.  After seven years of on-again, off-again, try a cycle, skip a cycle …. it happened!  I was pregnant.  Really.  For good.  YAY!

I had a great pregnancy.  One little incident of bleeding.  No problem.  No real morning sickness.  One time frying ground beef made me feel a bit nauseous.  Bananas gave me heartburn.  Everything else was good.  I even got a pass on migraines for 40 weeks!!!  Now that was fantabulous.  My baby tried to dig its way out through my ribcage a couple or ten times but it was all good.  I gave birth to the cutest baby boy ANYONE has ever seen.  I’m sure of it, so there’s no point in arguing with me.

BoyGenius was born on a Monday morning and as soon as he was out I got a migraine.  Coincidence?  Probably not.  But hey, they have the good drugs in the hospital so it didn’t last long.  I stayed a couple of days and when we brought him home on Wednesday I immediately noticed that someone had stolen my garden obelisk that had my Christmas lights on it.  Welcome home!

By Saturday of that same week I was a blubbering mess.  BoyGenius wouldn’t stop crying, except when we got him all hopped up on gripe water.  He latched on and nursed just fine but it didn’t seem to matter.  I rocked back and forth, probably squeeezed him too hard, cried and cried and knew that I was the worst mother ever and didn’t have a clue what to do.  After leaving a frantic message with the public health nurse looking for help, I finally sent HardWorker out to buy a $400 double-breasted breast pump.  I pumped.  I nursed.  I rocked.  Big deal.  BoyGenius cried.  I cried.  Public health nurse came by on Monday, said he was hungry and hooked us up with a local breastfeeding clinic.  Oma, BoyGenius and I went.  HardWorker was back at work.  BoyGenius nursed, drank 8 ounces of formula for dessert and slept like a baby.  Apparently my milk hadn’t “come in” and once it had, there still wasn’t enough to sustain a growing boy.  The nurses at the clinic rocked.  They gave us formula, the whole tube contraption so he could get formula while nursing, nipples, syringes, advice, herbal remedies to boost milk production, and most of all peace of mind.  BoyGenius was fine.  We could all breathe again.

And so began my journey as a stay-at-home-mother.  We continued visiting the breastfeeding clinic.  We made some friends there.  I continued breastfeeding and supplementing with formula.  BoyGenius never had any nipple confusion, he really didn’t care where his milk was coming from as long as it was coming.  This went on for 10 months.  One day he wouldn’t lay on the couch to nurse, would only stand in front of me.  The next day he bit me.  He was done with the natural nipple.  He continued with the bottle for about another year.  I let him.  Wanna make something of it?

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Here we go!

So I think there isn’t any better way to get started than just to jump right in.

So here it comes:  I don’t know if any of the rest of you have noticed this, but stay-at-home-mothers have hours during the day that they spend alone … well, with their sprog, but sans other grownups.  It starts early on.  Spouses/partner/significant others often take some time off when the newborn arrives but soon enough you’re on your own.  It’s all good during that first year of maternity/parental leave (that’s what we get here in the great white north) but once you’ve made that decision not to go back to work … as I said, you’re on your own.

Don’t get me wrong, I went into this with my eyes open.  I chose to stay at home.  It made sense.  My dear partner didn’t have the baby, I did.  My dp wasn’t ever sure she wanted a baby, I was.  My dp had a good job that she loved, almost a career, really … I had a job that was okay, but never felt like it was a career (although that’s what the boss wanted us to feel).  HardWorker’s job paid more than mine and so it made sense to both of us for me to stay home with BoyGenius.  We didn’t want to have to pay to leave him with some non-family member from 7 am ’til 7 pm every weekday just so I could clear about $200 a month.  Aside from that, it just wasn’t what having a baby was about for me.  Having a baby was about having a baby and spending time with the cutest bundle joy imaginable.  So that’s what I did … and still do.  BoyGenius will be 8 this year.  I’m still at home.

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