Monday, 26 March 2012


I’m sure everyone’s heard of “baby brain”. I’m also sure that those who haven’t suffered from it assume that it’s a make-believe disorder coined by mothers, in an attempt to make themselves feel better about their sudden inability to speak and/or perform simple tasks. Having personally suffered from this condition I can confirm that not only is it real, but apparently also permanent. Mike is a big fan of baby brain and sums up the multitude of symptoms by referring to them as TIAs (which is basically the short form for mini stroke). These occurrences happen all too frequently and, because it’s me we’re talking about, usually in public. A recent example took place while paying for an item at Coach (which is dangerous in itself). The saleswoman thanked me for my purchase at the same moment I was about to thank her. At the last millisecond I decided that it might end up sounding weird. Kind of like when I ask someone “how are you?” to which they usually reply “fine thanks, and you?” causing me to say something brilliant like “great! How are you?” – And so forth. So I changed my mind. In the brief moment it took me to decide against ‘thank you’ and whether or not ‘you’re welcome’ was suitable, what instead came out was the word “honest”. Yes, honest. Later when I described this TIA to Mike, he assumed I would have made a joke to divert the awkwardness. Sadly I did no such thing and instead watched her puzzled face as she repeated the word back to herself in her head. I said nothing, grabbed by bag, and left. Sometimes you just can’t come back from something like that and it’s better to just carry on as if it never happened. File it away in your memory under ‘cringe-worthy’; subcategory ‘baby brain’.

Speaking of which, one of my favourite moments took place last month. I pulled up in Vanessa (my van), just as the Purolator truck stopped at the foot of my driveway. Maybe it’s the child in me, but every time I see a delivery truck on my street I get this excited, butterfly-like feeling and hope that maybe someone sent me a parcel. Usually it loops around the cul de sac and drives past, but this time it stopped right in front of my house. You can imagine my level of enthusiasm as the delivery guy said hello and then stood up to retrieve what I knew would be for me. There was no mistaking it. So, without thinking, I said “please tell me you have a big package with my name on it”. Oh yes; that happened. Obviously. Much like my experience in Coach, I just stood there like an idiot and watched my words register across his face. I could have made a joke – honestly I don’t know why I didn’t – but instead I signed for my “big package” and went inside. I’m sure it happens all the time – especially with perverts, which he likely assumed I was. Come to think of it, my address has probably been flagged and I’m going to receive some kind of sexual harassment pamphlet in the mail.

Anyway, in case you know a mother and she does weird things like fills her car up while it's still running (yep, did that one while 8 months pregnant with Isla), or leaves a stove element on all day long (did that one too), or forgets how to spell the word ‘who’ (“hoo”); wait until she leaves the room to laugh at her. It’s not her fault. She used to be smart – and maybe one day will be again. Kids are like shop-vacs, sucking the intelligence out of those who gave them life. I’d like to say it’s temporary, but clearly I’m still its poster-mom. Time will tell, I guess. In the mean time I'll just try to look pretty and hope no one listens to the words coming out of my mouth.

Monday, 19 March 2012

texting alot make me feel bad.

My grandfather (in law) was griping last summer about how the world is growing away from basic conversation. In place of eye contact and body language are texts, emails, and facebook messaging. He joked that over time humanity will have evolved into a group of speechless drones who will be permanently hunched forward and, in place of fingers, will have ‘super-thumbs’ for texting. This of course will be due to the fact that humans will no longer have face to face interactions and will instead communicate entirely through texting, or whatever will soon replace texting. Far fetched and sarcastic as that is, I think he’s on to something.

I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve had in the last year which have involved the person I’m trying to talk to, completely enthralled with their cell phone and unable to focus on what I’m saying. What’s the point in even pretending? I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume the reason that driving and texting is illegal is because you simply can’t pay attention to both. The same goes for conversations; you can’t possibly hear what I’m saying to you if you’re simultaneously involved in another social media based conversation. There’s just no way. Not only that; it's rude. And if you've read previous entries, you may remember how strongly I feel about manners and self-awareness. I posted something on facebook to that effect a few months ago and the response from those on my ‘friends list’ was powerful. If everyone agrees with how awful texting during a conversation is, why does it happen so often? Everywhere I look there is someone texting; most times it’s in the car next to me which, as a mother, I find infuriating. When my kids are secured safely in my mom-van, there are few things that frustrate me more than looking over to see ‘Johnny-Douchebag’ glancing down at what I know is a cell phone. Just FYI to everyone who texts while driving; you’re doing a horrible job at hiding it.

Anyway, now that I feel a bit lighter having ranted, I’m going to go ahead and completely contradict myself by sharing a story which took place last week. I was sitting in my mom-van (whom, for future reference, I named Vanessa VanVanningon – I obviously excel at mom-jokes), and decided to answer a call from one of my friends. I know, I know; according to the law, driving and chatting on a cell is just as bad as texting. I was at a red light and planned on talking for only a few seconds (mostly because I’m overly aware of my ‘daytime minute’ restrictions). The guy in front of me was LOSING HIS MIND in the rear-view mirror. Either that or there was a bee in his car. For those of you who are Seinfeld fans, his wild gestures made him look exactly like Coco the Monkey. I briefly interrupted my friend to inform her of what was going on, and that I had to lock my doors in case this lunatic decided to jump out and punch me in the face. Why you ask? Having deduced the meaning of his chatter box hand sign, I’m pretty sure it was due to my talking on the phone. Wow; some people are really concerned with what others are doing. I wasn’t sure how to react so, in my obnoxious ways, I waved at him. Apparently he didn’t like that and continued with this performance. It made me think of two things: One; that I should really listen to Mike and stop “poking bears” because one day I realy will get punched in the face, and two; this poor guy probably shares the same frustration with my grandfather. The world is being taken over by cell phones and in place of personal interaction is social media. I know this guy probably just has anger-management issues, but for the sake of this blog entry I’m going to go ahead and assume he’s longing for some good old fashioned human connections without the aid of a cell phone.

I know I sound like someone’s ‘Nan, but if I had a nickel for all of the friends I’ve witnessed have incredibly important and emotional conversations via text, I would probably have….well, I guess about a dollar. That didn’t quite have the impact I was hoping for. The point of this is that I think as a society we’ve begun to rely too heavily on technology. For instance, if you’re having marital trouble; why on earth would you ever assume that settling your differences via text message is appropriate? Think of how much is lost without eye contact, body language, and tone of voice. Texting is for things like "I'm at the grocery store - do we need milk", etc. Not "I think we should see other people", etc. Humans are supposed to communicate with their voices and I think if we carry on like this our bad examples might cause our children to grow up without social skills. Not only that; their collective ability to both spell and form sentences will be far worse than ours ever was. That’s saying something because, since the explosion of social media, I’ve become painfully aware of how terrible most people write. I realize this is making me sound like a patronizing ‘B’, but this is one of my biggest problems with facebook. If I see someone write the word ‘congradulations’ one more time I think I might lose it (perhaps even worse than that passionate driver I happened upon at the red light). There is, and never will be, a ‘D’ in that word – that goes for “congrads” as well (*shudder*). Also, while we’re on this subject, a lot isn’t one word. It just isn’t. My computer won’t even let me type it as an example. Apparently this pet peeve is something my laptop and I have in common. There are a lot (see how nice that looks?) of things that we need to be aware of when writing – but I can’t communicate them all to you without sounding like I need to be medicated. Just quickly I’ll say that if you don’t know the differences between ‘to’ and ‘too”, and “there”, “their” and “they’re”; perform a google search immediately and stop embarrassing yourself. Or, if spelling doesn’t mean anything to you, stop contributing to the nervous twitch I’m developing as a result of this incessant ignorance of the English language.

*Ahhh* that feels better. I promise my next entry won’t be as hot-headed. Well actually I can’t say that – we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s not a coincidence that I decided to incorporate the words rants and tangents into the title. With that said if you take anything from this, please never participate in another text-war. If you have a problem with someone, texting will only make it worse. Get in your car, stop at the LCBO for some Baco Noir, go to their home and have a nice little face to face. Your relationship will be better for it. If not, you'll at least have that bottle of wine you picked up.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Yeah I'll take a Big Mac, with a side of Kudos. He'll have one too - hold the Kudos though.

I recently found myself explaining to one of our best friends why it’s important for him to fall off the wagon, so to speak, and gain a  bunch of weight in support of his very pregnant wife (incidentally one of my other best friends). While he was “cheating” on his fitness & nutrition regime by having a beer, I mistakenly gave him props and assumed he typically wasn’t drinking because his wife couldn’t. When he explained his commitment to Crossfit and accompanying dietary restrictions, I took heed to how good he looks. Like his gorgeous wife, he’s someone who is typically in shape so I wasn’t taken aback by him looking fit. I decided to take the opportunity to tenderly scold him for not being aware of the “rules”. Maybe it’s just me, but when I was pregnant I made sure Mike clearly understood all of his responsibilities as my supportive partner. These included obvious things like getting me Big Macs in the middle of the night (should the mood strike), telling me I looked beautiful, not questioning my somewhat frequent (hormone-induced) irrationality, and making sure to not make me feel bad by parading around with a 6-pack. I’m talking about the abdominal variety, as well as Heineken (which happened to be my incredibly unfair craving when pregnant with Sam. Thanks for that, Universe). Now before you think less of me by assuming that I’m a bossy, control-freak; it’s important to know that I’m not at all suffocating or oppressive. Though admittedly I am biased in saying this, I’m sure that those who know us well would support me by agreeing that Mike has it pretty good. Regardless of whether it’s because I’m a Libra or maybe it’s just do to the fact that I’m a woman; I like things to be balanced and equal. I also don’t like being told what not to do – which, in terms of the negative aspects, is essentially pregnancy in a nut-shell. So, along with the aforementioned understanding he and I shared, I would not have been in support of him losing the weight I happened to be gaining. It’s important to know that I packed on well over 60 pounds for each pregnancy, and while I did embrace the miracle of life taking place; I also resented the moon-face staring back at me in the mirror. Not so much with Sam as with Isla, but pounds are pounds, and there were days throughout each pregnancy that I felt like an extra pale, beached manatee. A buff husband scampering around the house may have pushed me over the edge.

I’m reminded of a funny story (although not so funny at the time) which took place at one of my midwife appointments. Basically Mike thought it would be a good idea to hop on the scale after my ‘weigh-in’ (the dreaded commencement of each appointment) and declare, surprised, that he’s lost weight. I’m not sure if it was the inevitable aftermath of me sobbing in the elevator that made him clue in, or if it was my cartoon Bambi eyes welling up while trying to book my next appointment, but he knew without being told where he went wrong.  I know Mike’s been worried about me blogging this one because it makes him look incredibly insensitive so, in his defence, he really had no idea how stupid this was until after the fact. He apologized profusely and admits wholeheartedly that he was just wasn’t thinking. Now looking back I can’t help but wonder if his immediate realization had something to do with the fact that he was aware of the “you’re not allowed to look amazing while you’re wife is pregnant” rule. I wasn’t completely devastated and the tears were almost entirely a result of those awesome pregnancy hormones I keep mentioning. So it didn’t take long for this to become a funny story which, to Mike’s dismay, would be shared with friends for years to come . The real doozies take a bit longer to evolve into comedic anecdotes and are usually associated with an argument of sorts. Those ones need to cool down for a while before they’re funny (I’m sure anyone in a relationship knows exactly what I’m talking about)
Anyway, back to my friend and his horribly timed pursuit of fitness. His wife is just about the most supportive and loving creature I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, so it’s not surprising that she hasn’t gone up one side of him and down the other on this issue. That’s where I come in. I took the liberty and explained, with the help of my weigh-in story, why it’s important to be supportive in all ways including getting fat. At least this ensures that the task of getting back into shape is less daunting because you know your partner will be right there beside you; red-faced and dry-heaving at the gym. All things considered, I don’t think this is too much to ask for.

Now before I make it sound like I hated pregnancy, I have to be clear and illustrate that I actually loved having been pregnant. At the risk of sounding like I work for Hallmark, I will treasure the memoires for the rest of my life. Women who are fortunate enough to know what I’m talking about would probably agree, and also wouldn’t trade it for anything. The sense of triumph after giving birth is second to none – especially having done it naturally. Yeah, I’m one of those A-holes who inadvertently make you feel bad about yourself if you’ve had an epidural. Trust me, had it not been for the back pain which resulted from the epidural I had with Isla, I would have had it again. Maybe I would have even asked for seconds, just to be safe. If I recall, during my labour with Isla, the armour-clad anaesthesiologist rode into my delivery room on a white steed. Although, now thinking back, that may have been a pain-induced hallucination. Who knows; who cares? Point is, I got the drugs and I loved them. It was the seven months of spinal pain that deterred me on round two. Having experienced both the natural and “unnatural” I can honestly say it wasn’t so bad dealing with the pain; of course it’s easy to say that now that I'm jacked full of amnesic hormones which apparently are responsible for me wanting to do it all over again.
At least I will always have the fact that I delivered a nearly ten pound baby. Mike loves when I bring it up; which is often. And honestly, even if I had been under general for the birth of my kids, and had never experienced a contraction; I would still find ways to bring up the fact that I carried each of them around for 10 months. Basically no matter how you slice it; mothers are entitled to a lifetime of kudos.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Thanks, 'Tips'!

I once read a quote about all parenting advice you once had, going out the window once you actually had kids. I wish for the sake of this entry I could remember the quote, or who wrote it, but I’m not the most organized person on a good day. Anyway, I found this to be particularly amusing as Mike and I had many discussions throughout the years of how we'll parent. Not only that, but most (if not all) ended with the incredibly naive assumption that everything will go according to plan. While I have applied some of our theories (like tricking Isla into thinking applesauce is the junkiest junk-food around), most are laughable now that I look back. For instance, I remember saying that I would never tiptoe around when the kids are asleep. After all, how would they avoid becoming light sleepers if they didn't get used to someone vacuuming beside their heads during a nap? Mike agreed with me on this one – that is until Isla was born. Isla, though wonderful right from the moment of conception, was not an easy baby. WHEN she would finally fall asleep, Mike and I would transform into ninjas, terrified to make even the slightest sound which might wake her. Not that she had ever demonstrated that she was a light sleeper; it was just too risky to test her limitations. So each and every time she would fall asleep, there we were, trying desperately to not make a sound beyond inhaling and exhaling. Of course, much like when you’re trying to hurry and only end up slowing yourself down, staying quiet is virtually impossible. It’s times like these I would accidentally knock the broom over and, in a desperate attempt to catch it before it clangs onto the tile, end up kicking it mid-air and, like a javelin, it would end up firing into the glass door. That scenario has taken place several times, I swear. You would think I'd learn to stop trying to sweep during "quiet time", but I rarely learn from my mistakes. It's a wonder the door is still in tact.

Then there’s Sophie (anyone with a baby knows exactly who I’m talking about). She’s a little rubber giraffe equipped with an internal squeaker; extremely popular with the infant demographic. I don’t know she how does it, but Sophie always manages to find her way onto my chair or under my feet. When I inevitably sit or stand on her, she screams her little head off for the duration it takes for her to fill back up with air. It’s anything but quiet and always seems to happen when I’m tiptoeing around the house during the much anticipated (by me) afternoon nap. Anyway, that was a bit of tangent. The point is I didn’t realize know how difficult it would be once there was actually a sleeping child upstairs to carry on as if there weren’t one. Since nap-time is really the only time I can get anything done, I try my hardest not to disrupt the kids. Of course now that I have two, the whole concept is out the window. Isla won’t sleep in the afternoon and, bless her little heart, instead sings at the top of her lungs until I come and get her. Since her room is beside Sam’s, I’ve had to stagger their naps. Can’t win 'em all, I guess. Much like the "sleep when they sleep" theory; if you're a mother and have managed to followed this advice, I'm thoroughly impressed. Trust me, I've tried; but the anxiety of waking up to 17 loads of laundry keeps me from achieving the much-needed rest. In spite of this I still find myself passing this same advice on to others. I just make sure to include how impossible it is, and it seems to ease a bit of the associated pressure. It's almost become sarcastic advice, sharing a category with such gems as “make sure your kids don't watch TV until they're two". HA! Clearly the genius who thought that one up did not have kids at the time. If not for the delightfully captivating antics of Mickey and friends, I would never shower.

While unsolicited advice comes from a sincere place (I would hope), it can sometimes be a little bit overwhelming for mothers – especially new mothers. There’s this fear that we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing, but really who knows what is right and wrong? My advice to new mothers, unsolicited I suppose, is that they should do what feels right. Every baby is different, just as every mother is different. Also try to remember not to take out your frustration on the poor soul who offered their two cents. After all, they’re just trying to help. Unless of course it’s that friend; you know the one I’m talking about. We all seem to have one and probably by age 30 have weeded her out of the circle. She’s the one who apparently just can't help herself and, probably due to a combination of insecurity and a lack of self-awareness, seems to always be in passive-aggressive-critic mode. She’s the one who will mention, in a light tone to suggest a joke (but you know it’s not) the calorie count of the glass of wine you’re trying to enjoy. Rule of thumb: when it comes to wine, back off! Everyone knows those calories don’t count. Like chocolate, sometimes you just need a glass of wine. And by sometimes, I mean most times. They are calories for the soul and not meant to be counted. Don’t listen to that friend; she probably has no idea how she comes across and would be devastated if you shared with her your internal commentary while she states, time and again, what's on her mind. In her defence, she may suffer from that self-declared ‘missing filter’ syndrome I mentioned in a previous blog (although I still think that’s basically just a polite way of saying “I’m ignorant”). Regardless of the reasons why, this friend is exhausting and everything feels like a competition. She probably calls you fat, without actually calling you fat, on a daily basis. She likely implies you’re a crappy mother, and that she’s better than you in every way. My advice if you haven’t yet weeded her out: do so immediately. People like that will give you an ulcer and, trust me, if you’re a mother you don’t have time for stomach ailments. Life is too short.

While we're on the topic of 'unsolicited advice', in spite of my brief tangent, I have to offer one tidbit I wish someone had given me: do not choose lottery numbers. Mike and I did this several years ago, with some minor variations to reflect the birthdays of our children. Now that we have these "winning numbers" (which have proven to actually be losing numbers), I can't pass by the lottery kiosk at the grocery store without having heart palpitations. You see, I’m not much of a gambler and I rarely buy lottery tickets. Unfortunately now since I chose these numbers, if they win I will obviously have to drive my car off of a bridge. Of course I'm not being serious because life is about so much more than money; but can you imagine your numbers winning on the day you didn't buy a ticket? Unless you're going to subscribe and play each time; do not torture yourself with the "OMG I hope my numbers didn't win" weekly panic attack. It’s the worst. The lotto 649 commercials don’t help as I would love to quit my job (I love being a paramedic, but not that much) and live on a private tropical island. Talk about a mind “F”.