Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life...

There is a line.  On one side of the line is the way things were.  On the other side of the line is the way things are now.  Sometimes we can see the line a long ways off and we eagerly anticipate it - the moment we get to throw our caps in the air, the moment we get to say I do, the moment we get to here it’s a ....!  Other times we don’t see the line coming at all, slipping from one unchanged moment to the next, until suddenly there it is and we’re caught with our arms wind-milling, teetering precariously between what was and what is. Sometimes the “lasts” come and we don’t realize it was the last until it’s too late to mark it, too late to make it significant and meaningful. 

Tristan and Ava started Grade 1 yesterday and today I bought myself my own alarm clock.  I feel both like I’m teetering between what was and now is, and a kind of grief for the lasts I didn’t notice.  Monday was the last weekday morning Sebastian would crawl into bed with me and the last time I didn’t have to set a regular alarm.  And I didn’t even realize it.  I knew school was coming.  I knew the kids would be going everyday but for some reason that fact didn’t hit me until this morning when I woke up to Hugh’s alarm for the second day in a row and then reset it for tomorrow morning.  For 7 years - since I went on maternity leave with Tristan and Ava - I have woken up to my kids and not an alarm.  This morning after resetting Hugh’s alarm I realized with somewhat of a shock that I have forever left behind that world of babies and slow days and weekday morning snuggles and staying in my pj’s for as long as possible.  Just that quickly I am entrenched in a new phase in our family’s life.  School. 

This year at school has brought another separation besides just mine from the majority of the kids waking hours - which feels huge enough.  This year Tristan and Ava decided they wanted to have their own stories to tell at the end of the day and chose to be in separate Grade 1 classes.  It was so strange dropping them off in different rooms.  Tristan walked in as confident as anything but Ava walked in to her class and there were no girls from her Kindergarten class last year.  She had a white knuckle grip on my hands as I walked her over to a table of girls and introduced her.  Her good-bye hug was desperately fierce and her little face as I turned for a last look just about broke my heart.  Even as I walked away fighting tears I knew Ava would be okay.  I knew she would make new friends in this class.  I knew God’s perfect plan for her was being worked out in this strange new situation she found herself in.  But she wasn’t okay when I left her so I wasn’t okay.  And I knew I wouldn’t be okay until I could hear from her that she was okay.  Sure enough when I picked up the kids at the end of the day Ava was bubbling over with information about her new friends and her new class and her new teacher.  Just like that she was walking confidently on the other side of the line she had been teetering over only that morning.

As for me I’m still teetering trying to navigate my way through agendas, homework, class notes, reading programs, making lunches every single day without peanut butter.  I’m sure by the end of the week I will be firmly and confidently in “what is” but today I can’t help missing what was.   Oh what I would give right this minute while I’m trying to find my balance on that line for one more Wednesday morning snuggle in my bed, one more moment of being able to make it all better with a kiss.  And yet, I think I lived those moments of babyhood, toddlerhood and early kidhood as fully as possible.  I can honestly say I have no major regrets about the last six years.  Minor ones like why didn’t I let Ava cut her hair sooner?  Or why did I waste so much energy being frustrated with pee accidents?  But those are all par for the motherhood course.  That thing they say about hindsight is so true.  Do I wonder if I’ve done enough?  Absolutely.  I don’t think you can help wondering that as you send your kids off into the next phase of their life  equipped with only a backpack, a Hello Kitty or Spiderman water bottle and a pair of indoor shoes.  But, as Hugh said to me last night, it’s not about parenting so that your kids don’t make mistakes or never get hurt.  It’s about teaching them what to do, how to handle it, when they do make them or it does happen.

Wise words.  Freeing words.  Words I totally agree with and will live by as soon as I get sorted who needs what for which class, where the kids are supposed to put their indoor shoes since they don’t have cubbies  like Kindergarten, and what exactly I’m supposed to be writing or signing in each agenda.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Parenting in our head vs Parenting in real life

I have a friend who runs the art camp at our local arts and heritage centre.  Last week she told me that the centre has been running "tunes at noon" every Thursday throughout the summer.  Come, she said.  Bring a lunch, bring the kids.  Today while packing up our lunch I told the kids we were going to have an adventure.  We were going to take our lunch down to the Esplanade and listen to a concert and it was going to be so much fuuuun!  Tristan promptly threw himself on the floor kicking and screaming, "I hate concerts!  I hate concerts!  I hate concerts!"  Naturally. 

"How can you hate something you've never done!" I yelled back.  Yelling to be heard over his screaming of course.  Not because I was mad that Tristan's Mr. Hyde - Mr. Contrary - had reared his ugly head again.  Of course not.  I am calm, I am zen, I am supreme motherhood.


On that auspicious note we headed off for our grand adventure.  The performer today was a guy and his guitar.  He had a wiry grey beard that dusted the top button of his Hawaiian shirt and he sang everything from The Hokey Pokey to This Old Man to The Twist to Blowin' In The Wind with his head tipped back to see out from underneath the brim of his old straw hat.  Thankfully Mr. Contrary let us have Tristan back and we had a great time singing along to the songs we knew and dancing to The Hokey Pokey and The Twist.  The guitar man started to lose all the kids - and the crowd was mostly kids - during "Blowin' in the Wind so he gave them all a 10 second waltz lesson and the next thing I knew Tristan and Ava were "waltzing" around the little dance floor giggling like crazy. It was adorable.  At the end Tristan even admitted he like concerts after all.

Another thing I learned about Thursdays at the Esplanade is it is also free admission into the gallery and their current exhibit is all about glass.  I love glass so I really wanted to take a look.  I'm not one of those moms who does a lot of museums and galleries with my kids.  In fact I've barely done any.  My kids are exuberant and curious which is my euphemistic way of saying they never walk if they can run, they talk at a yell and they want to touch everything they see. I've always wanted to be one of those moms who were exposing their kids to culture and art from a young age, instilling in them the importance of history and a love of creative expression but the reality of walking slowly and talking quietly and and looking without touching was always just way too stressful to contemplate. 

On the heels of the concert success I was feeling brave.  So I took a deep breath and we entered the double glass doors of the gallery.  We wandered by display cases of original AltaGlass and a reproduction of a glassworks forge/studio and then watched a whole bunch of videos of artists blowing glass into vases, goblets, tumblers and pitchers.  The kids were as fascinated by it as I was.  We wandered into another room which held two sections of glass art installations and free form glass pieces like vases and towers - none of which were behind protective glass.  Gulp. I felt a lot safer when all the glass was behind glass!  I reminded the kids to look with their eyes not their hands but still had a moment of total terror as we approached an enormous tower of glass discs.  My shout not to touch died in my throat as I watched my kids stop a respectful distance away.  I decided I could trust my big kids but that for my own sanity I would hang onto Sebastian's hand.  We were all amazed by the incredible glass creations and we talked about which ones we liked and why.  It was so interesting to hear the kids perspectives and I felt like we were being so artsy.  Sebastian did have a moment when he decided he didn't want to hold my hand anymore.  He tried to pull away but I managed to catch him a split second before he hit a stand that had a glass treehouse on top of it.  Other than that I was amazed at how well behaved the kids were.  They didn't run - or even make any sudden movements!  I didn't have to remind them not to yell even once.  And they didn't try to touch a thing.  They were so in awe of what they were seeing they forgot to be their normal exuberant selves.   As we were walking back toward the exit a gentleman wandering through the same exhibit said, "I can't believe you have your young children in a glass exhibit, I'm impressed."  Thanks I said proudly.  I was suddenly imagining a whole new life with my artistically inclined, historically knowledgeable kids who might say to people things like, "Isn't it interesting how glassworks has evolved over the centuries and yet how much of it remains the same?"  Which is the moment Tristan decided he couldn't go one more minute without doing a handstand.  In the middle of two glass installations.

Nothing happened, thankfully.  Note to self:  In a museum or gallery short = sweet. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When love turns to hate

At 10:00 this morning my next door neighbour knocked on my door.  I wished frantically for a sweater that was handier than one floor above me and then opened the door in all my schlumpy pajama'd glory.  Hey, she said. Did you notice you have a police sticker on the window of your truck and camper?  Uh no.  No I didn't notice that.  Which then required me to walk outside in all my schlumpy pajama'd glory.  Sure enough there was a bright yellow sticker letting me know that if the vehicle wasn't moved in 24 hours it would be towed.  It was time stamped at 1:16 yesterday.  We had 3 hours to move it.  No problem right?  Did I mention that the last time we tried to move it the wiring caught on fire and it hasn't run since?

Here she is parked at our duplex a couple of years ago. The truck was brand new in 1979.  It runs on propane.  Have you ever heard of such a thing before?  The camper has avocado green and mustard yellow lino so I'm guessing it was new in the 70's sometime too.  I love it.  I love everything about it from the musty smell of the drawers to the ugly curtain fabric that I never wanted to change.  My parents and me and my two sisters drove this baby from Northern BC to California one summer.  Cray-zay! The truck and camper hold a lot of great memories for me and I was thrilled beyond thrilled when my parents gave it to us. (They upgraded to a motorhome.)  We used it twice the first summer we had it when our twins were 10 months old.  We then decided twice was plenty of times to camp with two crawling babies.  It then came with us to Alberta where Hugh used it as his commuter vehicle for the first bit we lived here.  Imagine driving that to work on the first day of a new job in a new career!  After retiring from active service it sat variously in the driveway of our duplex, in the yard at Hugh's shop and then back in our driveway before being moved to the curb of our new house after great effort was expended getting it to start.  Over the first four years we owned the truck and camper we spent a lot of time talking about it, moving it, and fixing it but not actually camping in it.  

Then last year we had a brilliant idea to meet my parents and Hugh's parents in Banff over the May long weekend.  Which meant we had to get the truck going for real.  We drove it with fear and trembling all the way to Banff willing it to run until we got there.  It did.  We even made it home again.  And then it died.  And it has sat on our curb out front for the last year and a half.  After our Banff drive Hugh decided he didn't trust the truck enough to really take it any distance and that it was time to sell it.  I have great love for this battered old truck and camper and was trying to think of anyway we could salvage it.  Until the wiring caught on fire when Hugh turned the key in the ignition last Fall.  A few weeks ago Hugh got serious about wanting to put it on Kijiji so he replaced the burnt out wiring and got it to the point where all he had to do was charge the battery and we could move it/sell it.  It's been sitting on our curb for almost two years and now, when it's days away from running, and we actually intend to move it we get this stupid notice.

Is anyone else suddenly singing Alanis Morissette?

Accompanying that lovely little notice was a fine for $280.  I called Hugh at work and told him the good news and then I went to my chiro appointment and did a desperately needed grocery shop.  When I got home at 1:30 the truck and camper were gone.  Hugh called me a little later and told me that he had rushed home with a battery charger from work and tried to get it started when, wouldn't you know, it was out of propane.  He ended up having to pay $80 to get it towed to the yard at his shop.  So now this whole adventure has cost us $360.  We should be able to recover that cost when we sell the blasted thing but seriously!  There is so much I would rather spend $360 on!

Like this:
It calls my name.  And it's been calling for a ridiculously long time.  sigh.  Someday this pretty lil' thing will be mine.  Just...not right now I guess! 

What would you do with $360?