Thursday, 31 March 2011


“Hey, Barkeep, where’s my cold one?” I recognized the voice even without turning around. Switching the Oasis on, I let the pink mixture blend for 30 seconds, poured the daiquiris into the sugar rimmed Cyclones, added a lime to each and placed them on the service bar on top of the chit.

“Hey Larry, how was your shift?” Wearing my best smile I slid a pint of 50 in front of him.

“Looong and over.” He boomed, the cold mug to his lips before finishing the sentence. One of my regulars, Larry was a shift worker at the nearby plastics manufacturer. I saw him every night at 11:15 when he was working afternoons and every afternoon at four when he worked mornings.

“Are you gonna be eating today Lare?” I asked, waving a menu, figuring he would pass as he usually did.

“Yeah, I’ll take a menu and why don’t you pour us a coupla shots – your pick. Jeff’s coming today.” His gaze hugged every inch of my body, making me wish I hadn't forgotten my sweater.

“I can’t Larry. You know Joe’s new rule, we can’t drink during shift even if the customer is buying. Besides, I’ve got class tonight.” I swallowed the bile rising in my throat. Great, he had his kid today.

“Sure? Joe’s not gonna hear it from me. C’mon, pour us two Lemon Drops. I wanna celebrate shiftend! Don’t let me drink alone.” There was the familiar desperation in his voice. Every single night this guy had something to celebrate.

“Why don’t you grab a bite? What time is Jeff getting dropped off?” His ex-wife usually brought the ten-year old straight to the bar after school. Anger gripped my shoulders thinking about these two being allowed to have a child.

“Soon, he'll be here soon. I’ll grab something when he gets here.” Then laughing conspiratorially leaned over the bar. “I wanna down a couple before he gets here though.”

I couldn’t wait to be done school. This job wasn’t worth it some nights. My lighthearted facade was wearing thin with this guy.

“No problem Larry, but you know I’m not gonna keep serving you when Jeff gets here. Remember what happened last time. You locked him out of the house and passed out. He walked back here and had to stay at Sam’s. It’s not right, a ten year old, wandering the streets at midnite.” I tried to keep my voice steady but I could hear it rising, rich with indignation.

He grabbed an olive from my garnish tray, his yellow fingernails black rimmed; then popping it into his mouth, he chewed hungrily. He lifted his mug and drained the last half of his beer, not even giving the condensation a chance to wet the bar.

I turned my back, pretending to read one of my chits. Disgusting, I thought. But pointing out this vulgarity would only encourage him to treat the garnish tray as a buffet later on when he was drunk.

“Really? Are you gonna be like that now too? First Sam. Now you? Whatthafuckman?” He slammed his mug on the bar. Then audibly dislodging the phlegm in his throat, he grabbed his cigarettes. Automatically, I held my lighter to his smoke, having to control my urge to aim elsewhere.

“Thanks.” He muttered.

I reluctantly poured him a Lemon Drop. He signalled to his empty mug and I was forced to pour him another draft too.

At least I wouldn’t be around to witness the sloppy mess he would become later. When it was just him, I could care less. On those nights, I stuffed him into a cab and gave the driver his address. But these shifts, when it was his turn to take care of the poor kid who called him Dad: serving him on these occassions made me sick. Made me want to call Children’s Aid.

This is my entry for The Red Writing Hood prompt "someone who really gets under your skin." Constructive criticism is welcome.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

An open letter to Raffi

Dear Raffi,

what kind of voodoo-magic hocus-pocus did you weave into your riffs that has my boys mesmerized? I thought it was just dumb luck that first time with Deaglan, when after 40 torturous minutes of head-splitting wailing on our way to Sarnia, I slipped in one of your CDs, that he mercifully (excuse my bluntness) shut his pie hole.

So then I started using (you) when I had to take a shower and leave him in the crib; a little peanut butter sandwich made with jam, and he was quiet as a mouse. And I thought that would be it. But no; I found myself getting greedy, taking hits (of you) on shorter drives - some take me out to the ballgame and presto, a stress-free ride to Walmart.

I also noticed your music having calming effects on my husband's driving, so that pretty soon we were both singing along with you, sometimes at the top of our lungs.  And just like riding a bike, the words came back, even though it had been thirty years since we'd heard you last. There were moments when I'd hear  apples and bananas in my head while doing the dishes and happily start whistling. 

Convinced your hold over my son was going to be short-lived, too good to be true, I got desperate. I needed more. More albums. I was going through CD's one after another and there were always songs that struck a chord. There was the shake your sillies out phase, and the now-infamous tingalayo phase. We sometimes had to give him six or seven doses (of that song) where he would dance naked (and maniacally I might add) around his toddler bed, butchering the lyrics.

Then with the birth of Naveen, I told myself to not get my hopes high; I certainly wouldn't be able to train him to be addicted to (ahem) - enjoy your music. But it didn't take much repeated exposure. It was like giving candy to a baby. Like a fish to water, he just took to it, like he'd been listening to you since the womb.

Why, just this morning, while driving Deaglan to daycare, Naveen decided that being up all night teething didn't make me candidate-for-the-loony-bin enough, he started a riot in his car seat making me wonder if I didn't maybe accidentally pinch his finger into the seatbelt buckle when you came into my mind like some sort of metaphysical zen instructor. Grampa's Farm, Grampa's Farm you seemed to be chanting. And just like that I pressed play and that tiny motormouth CANNED IT.

So thank you, you pied piper, you shutter-upper of babies and toddlers, you magic man. May I just say you get more and more attractive to the likes of mothers like me. Suddenly short trimmed beards are kinda sexy, Armenian men alluring, the lyrics to Kumbaya intoxicating - if you know what I mean. Okay, I'm not sure I know what I mean with that...but still, thank you.


Mother of two, impatient-in-the car, haven't-let-me-sleep-in-three-years, it's-all-about-them, boys.

I'm pouring my heart out with Shell.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Mostly Modern Family

If you were a fly on our wall, you'd see that Shaune and I have a fairly contemporary marriage. No traditional roles assigned to the usual suspects around here. We use a strengths-based model.  He cooks, I clean. He shovels the driveway, I change poopy diapers. He rough-houses and wrestles with the kids. I yell at them to cut it the hell out! He teaches them stuff that'll get a laugh. I roll my eyes.

Seriously though, we have a pretty good thing going on. Shaune helps diaper, feed and bathe the boys, cooks most of our meals and is generally the epitome of a modern-day dad and husband. I appreciate it but also think it's the way it should be.

Pioneers though we may be (you're welcome future daughter-in-laws!), a few aspects  of our relationship would send us straight back to the I Love Lucy days.

Three words.
Vehicles. Computers. Cameras.

When it comes to dealings in these domains, my husband has absolutely no faith in me. And I'm not even really sure why; I think I'm a pretty good driver, adept on the computer, take good pictures and video. But bless his heart, he can't help but give me a mini driving lesson if there is a patch of black ice within a five mile radius, seems unable to stop himself from cautioning  me that the laptop's CPU is directly beneath the keyboard -I might want to take it easy when typing and can be found mumbling under his breath if the camera case is accidentally left open.

So you will understand when I tell you that I was sick to my stomach when I scraped the side of the Odyssey on a yellow poll trying to manoeuvre it through the Lilliputian-sized gateway to the underground parking lot of a downtown hotel two weeks ago.  (Although I'm on maternity leave until June, I had to attend an orientation to learn of some structural changes at work.) And I wasn't sick because I was worried about the van, the damage was minor; I just knew that my husband's philosophy of my abilities in areas of electrical equipment and large machinery would be confirmed.

So instead of enjoying a few minutes with my colleagues before the meetings commenced, I paced the lobby of the hotel and rehearsed how I would break it to Shaune that I had hit the poll. Then, deciding I couldn't live with the kind of anxiety required to wait until I was finished at work, I called him.

"I have to tell you something"
"I scraped the car on the yellow poll going into the parking lot at the Hilton."
"Are you kidding me?"
"No, but thanks for asking me if I'm alright"
"Well you woulda told me if you weren't. How bad is it?"
"There's yellow paint over the back driver-side wheel well. Some scraping too."
"F***. Really?"
"Really. I wanted to tell you but I gotta go to my meeting."

Twenty minutes into my meeting I get this text:
"How deep is the scrape?"

My reply:
Mostly paint. Shallow.

How long?

Is he kidding me right now? This is the first time in over a year I'm in heels and a suit, it's snowing out and he wanted me to measure the scrape??
Didn't measure-in meeting

An hour later I'm still in meetings and get this text:
Deep enough you can see metal?
Don't think so.

And even after all this, me thinking I was breaking his fall by warning him ahead of time, he still shook his head and took several moments of silence when he saw the scrape.

I guess I should just thank my lucky stars that he kept quiet and didn't exclaim Lucy! You got some splainin to do!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Second class citizen

John looked at the brown and gold box on the counter. Tim Hortons. His mouth watered at the thought of the fluffy pink icing. They were not for him. He knew this. They were never for him. Still, he imagined biting into one.
The front door opened and his foster-sister ran in.

"Mama, did you get me the Double Strawberry Dips?"
"Yes, sweetie, the pink ones." replied Janice.

"With the sprinkles? Last time they didn't have sprinkles."

"I made sure." John's foster mother looked at him and gestured to the kitchen.

He'd been sidetracked by the donuts. Quickly he set to work cleaning up the morning dishes as  he did every day after school.

"Can I eat one now?" Claire asked jumping up and down, her pink tutu swishing in tandem.

Janice opened the box and cut one in half. She handed it to Claire. John's stomach rumbled. The ten year old busied himself rinsing the cereal bowls just the way his foster mother liked, before stacking them into the dishwasher, forcing himself not to look at the open box.

"We'll save this half for after dinner, okay?"

"What about the other two Mama? Can Johnny have one?" Claire always asked on donut days. John had liked the six year old immediately. In the little over a year since he'd been placed with Janice, Claire was the only bright spot; she was nothing like her mother.

"No honey, we don't want John to get cavities. You know that. He didn't go to the dentist like  you always have." Her voice light and airy for Claire's sake. John flinched remembering the quick hard slap he'd received the week before when she caught him eating a piece of Claire's Double Pink Dip. 

"You little thief!" She'd accused. Her ring had hit the bone on the side of his face, and he'd yelped out. He tried to explain through the tears that Claire had given it to him but Janice gripped his shoulder cutting him off.

"I have done enough for you -do you hear me?" He tried not to blink away her angry spit that had landed in his right eye.

"You're not to touch anything that doesn't belong to you while you're here." Her ice blue eyes narrowed and pierced through her frameless glasses. He'd never felt so frightened of a woman in his life.

This was the third foster home he'd been sent to since his own mother had been arrested. "Nobody wants boys." He'd overheard Joy, his social worker confide to someone on the phone. She was looking out the window when he came back from the washroom; didn't hear him walk in.
That was right before he came to Janice's, right about the time he'd decided to be on his best behaviour moving forward.

"You'll brush your teeth won't you Johnny?" Claire wasn't letting up.

Janice walked to the fridge, ignoring the girl. She grabbed a package of chicken, a small brick of cheese and the remaining half head of Iceberg. She reached into the cupboard under the sink and grabbed a thick wooden cutting board.
On Tuesdays they always ate Chicken tacos with avocados. And Claire and Janice ate Double Pink Dips for dessert.

This is my entry for the Red Dress Clubs picture prompt of this donut. It is a work of fiction pulled out of the rough draft novel I completed for National Novel Writing Month back in November. If you're interested in reading a few other very rough excerpts go here and here. Sorry for any inconsistencies - I'm still working out the details, believe me, I have a lot of work to do!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Letting myself off the hook

Monday morning right after his second bowl of Cheerios and only a half hour before he said he was starving again, Deaglan looked over at me and asked Mommy are you missing Uncle Matt?

Just like that.
Out of the clear blue sky.

I haven't told him that my brother is gone from here. Even writing that makes me ache. I don't see the point in telling a three year old what that means. I honestly don't know if he has the capacity to comprehend. It stressed me out though, this small earthly boy asking such a cosmic question.

All at once I felt like Atlas with that crushing globe on his shoulder. Burdened. Ever have one of those moments? Where you felt puny? Inadequate? 

But I focused.
Didn't fall apart.
Didn't choke back tears.

Soberly I looked at my first born and said yes I do, I miss him all the time. And you know the blanket of comfort that three foot wonder wrapped me in? It's okay Mommy, we'll go visit his house and you'll feel better.  

I left it
right there.

Then I pushed the door to my psyche open a crack and tossed this in with all the the other junk I'm not ready to deal with. Even still, I caught a glimpse of all that other stuff and I reeled a little. 

I steadied myself on the smooth cool arm of the recliner.

Questions sliced through the spacey parts of my throat where the knot had formed. How I will ever convey all the things I want them to know? Carry with them.  

Like my ocean-sized love for my brother.  My heartache that he didn't meet my little Naveen. That I can't taste cold chardonnay or chocolate peanut butter balls  without hearing  his laugh.

I hugged him last Easter with my tiny boy growing snugly inside, burgeoning. I said I can't wait to get home and put on my comfy pants. And he laughed a light little laugh and cautiously patted my belly. I never saw him again.

The depth of such
an undertaking, to precisely depict Matthew, who he was to me,
a medley of pluck and slight,
threatened to swallow me.

So I left it
right there,
And I forgave myself, reasoning these could be matters for another day.

This is my entry for The Red Dress Club's prompt forgiveness.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A book review and a giveaway

The Boston Globe said of Elizabeth Gilbert's (Eat Pray Love author) most recent book Committed that it's "smart but not intimidating, wise but not smarmy, kind but imperfect, funny in a way that makes us feel better about ourselves."

It occurred to me that here exactly was how I would like to be described - not even my writing - just me in general. Oh I know I have work to do.

But I would agree with that review. I was prepared not to like this latest work. I hesitated before buying it; I'd read Eat Pray Love on the eve of motherhood and though I found no parallel between our lives at the time compelling me to relate to the book, it spoke to me so clearly that I read it three times.

Marriage has thankfully changed my view of relationships between couples. In my twenties I bought with fervour the romantic notion of you complete me. I believed that if I could only find that perfect person, that veritable super-man, I would finally be happy. That this man would be the part of me which was missing; make me whole and ensure that I lived happily ever after. And he would certainly have me at hello and because he was the one, we would always have an easy go of it, riding on waves of passion forever.

In Committed, Gilbert addresses this ridiculousness. She spends a year studying the institution of marriage throughout the centuries, shares her findings using her own mistaken notions and mirth to enlighten the reader so that you feel as if you and she are learning at the same time.

I love that.

There were times I wanted to call someone just to read parts out loud. And I would have if my children didn't suddenly become possessed every time I picked up the phone. Believe me if I didn't know for certain that Shaune would rather have a root canal without pain meds than discuss Eat Pray Love author's new book about love and marriage, I would have held a bookclub meeting right there in our living room quoting highlighted passages while we took turns discussing how Gilbert's findings impacted us.

Nevermind that Gilbert is relatable for me because we're about the same age, grew up in a similar culture of thinking - especially about relationships and marriage but I was sure at times that she'd plucked trains of thought straight from my head. 

This book confirms that marriage the way I'm experiencing it, is right.
Is okay.
Is enough.
Is what it should be.

It talks honestly about the hard work that marriage is, the difference between infatuation and real love, how office relationships often initiated in the spirit of friendship can be insidious to your home life if you're not conscious of where it's going.

But there is no preaching. No judging and definitely no one-upping. She talks about this subject matter with boatloads of humility, beautiful language and a good dose of humour.

And because I think it's an important book to read, even though I'm not getting paid to promote it, I would like to offer someone my copy of the book. If you are interested, please leave a comment. I will use the random winner generator (I don't know if that's what it's called but there is such a thing) to pick a winner and send you the book. Be sure to leave me your first name and we can work out the details later.

I took pictures of our passport photos. We got them done this week. It was the first time the kids listened to what I've been saying. Deaglan kept smiling and saying cheese, finally. And it was the first time there was a good shot of Naveen's little teeth. Murphy's law at it's finest.

Friday, 18 March 2011


I handed the customs officer my driver's license and health card.

"Canadian." He shuffled the two pieces of ID and then looked at me.

"Where're you goin Miss?"

"I'm going to a baby shower. Uh, my sister's baby shower." I said, unable to recall where the shower was, my mind a blank suddenly.

"Where's your sister live?"

"Well she lives in Harper Woods, but the shower isn't there. It's at her friend's house. I mean it's at her sister-in-law's." I sat up straight hoping this would stop my voice from shaking. "I have the directions in my purse."

"Where're you bohn Miss?" He sounded just like my brother-in-law, same Michigan accent.

"Uh, Bangladesh but I've been a Canadian citizen for over twenty years."

"Where's your proof of citizenshep ehat?"

I'd been crossing this border since I was a kid and couldn't remember the last time they'd asked for my citizenship card.

"I'm waiting for a new one in the mail. I lost mine." It sounded lame even to me.

"MmmHmm." he said and without pausing, pointed toward the building in front of me. "Okaay please pull through and paark up under that paavilion. Do nat git out of your caar. An ahficer will cahm to you."

Shit. This was the first time I'd needed to cross since it had happened.    

I pulled into the parking lot of the Customs and Immigration Building. I badly needed a cigarette but was too scared to light one up. Within a few minutes a stern-faced officer was standing next to my door, signalling me with two gloved fingers to step out the car.

I pulled my lips into a tight smile. "Hi," I said.

He nodded his head. "Please stay on this side of the yellow line ma'am."

I don't know why I hadn't considered the ramifications to security at the bridge. It was June 2002, not even a full year after 9/11, the day which had altered our world. A terrible, terrible day which ignited a new kind of fear, a new kind of racism.

"What's going on?" My nervousness was slowly heating into anger. "Are you searching my car?" No warning. Nothing.

"Yes I am Ma'am. Please stay behind the yellow line." His voice was rigid and unapologetic. He then popped my trunk and with a wand like stick began sifting through my belongings. Books, a towel, an extra dog leash, some half-empty water bottles and some loose papers.

I could hear my mother's voice in my head.
"You have to know which way to go at the bottom of the bridge. The wrong direction - pick the wrong line and you could be there for hours." I most certainly had gone the wrong direction.

It was not a good day to be a lone traveller with no documented proof of belonging. It definitely was not a good day to be a brown skinned Arabic-looking woman without proof of Canadian citizenship.

After two more searches of my car  this time by two different officers in army outfits, and two 15 minute interviews by these officers I was released. (I later learned these officers belonged to the National Guard).

Weary and shaken I drove to the baby shower, four hours late, and arrived just as the party was packing up.

This is my entry for the Red Writing Hood meme - detour.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Church of Gramma and Grampa

Deaglan has left the building.

Metaphorically speaking. He's pulled out of my tight embrace and pledged allegiance to Gramma and Grampa. Abandoned ship.

The mother ship that is.

It's something they don't prepare you for in early-mama bootcamp. You can't prevent it by doing extra chin-ups. It's a part of the training though. And it kinda sneaks up on you.

Gramma and Grampa love. It's Mighty.

Yesterday we gassed up the Odyssey and headed to that holy Mecca of Deaglan's world. Outfitted the backseat with a long enough flick to decrease the number of Are we there yets? Explained that our arrival would coincide with the end of Pocahontas. Had snacks on hand and Raffi as a back-up should she fail to entertain.

I contemplated the act of letting go. The natural resistance to it. How sometimes God steps in and pries your fingers open, leaves you with no choice but to release.

An act that has its inception when their feet are too tiny to carry them. Only, you're blind to it. Busy believing you're the universe, you alone hold the keys to their safety, their joy, their future.

We met our gorgeous new nephew yesterday. Layton. I didn't warn these two about Gramma and Grampa love. I let them enjoy this moment of being everything to him.

I'm pouring my heart out with Shell today.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Lucky me

Everytime I change Naveen's diaper I grab a generous helping of his cocoa brown skin. Often I take his feety pyjamas  right off and hug his naked little body. Right there, smack in the middle of the day. I can't help it. At bathtime I am non-stop itching to grab his chunky lavish little bum. No warm blooded mama could resist it.

And I'm always calling out be careful going down the stairs! to my big boy. Every time. He's still too blissfully toddlerish to roll his eyes. Not looking forward to that day of reckoning, let me tell you. I'm trying to fit in as many smooches, hand-holding, snuggling and hugs-for-no-reason-other than-I-need-to-be-near-him as I can. No sense letting all this goodness go to waste.

I can't undo my motherness. It came with the babies.

You know cuz no one asks why the box for the new food processor  is filled with chopping blades, shredders and slicer discs. They go - huh, so these are all the parts eh?

I can't help feeling sick about what's happening to our Japanese friends. How there are mommies losing babies, husbands losing wives, babies losing daddies. Pain, misery, suffering. I can't help but wonder guiltily how I got so lucky to be safe while they are in all kinds of agony.  

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Act One

"What's this?" I set my glass of wine on the side table next to the couch.

"Goodfellas" he answers without looking at me.

"This is what we're watching?" We have this exact same conversation every night. I walk downstairs after finishing the bedtime routine with the kids, grab something to drink, sit down and then it starts. A negotiation to find something we can both agree on.

"Why not?" He turns to me.

"It's too violent." I flinch. Joe Pesci's fists slam  into the Billy Batts character. He's calling him a f***ing mutt, kicking and punching him over and over.

"Since when? This used to be your favourite movie." He pushes the recliner back into sitting position. I've got his attention.

My face heats up. He's got me there.  If you asked me ten years ago which movie I could watch again and again, I would have said Goodfellas.

"Since now. Look at this". Irritated I point to the screen. I take a sip of the shiraz-cab blend, the first sip always burns a little going down.

They pull the car over, a thudding coming from the trunk. I shield the side of my face closest to the TV knowing what's coming but can't drown out the sound. Frip, frip, frip, Pesci stabs the body repeatedly. Then Robert DeNiro shoots the corpse three or four times. Ray Liotta slams the trunk shut.


"Awww you're kidding Grandma." Frustrated he dismisses me and turns back to the movie.

"I'm  a grandma because I don't wanna watch scene after scene of violence?" I've never seen Joe Pesci uglier than in this movie.

"Uh, ya you are. Why don't you go hang out with my Aunt Bea?"

I'm laughing now. "I love your Aunt Bea."

"So do I, but you're acting like an old woman."

"Only old women don't like violence?"

I have to refrain myself from telling him that according to Wikepedia Goodfellas uses the F word something like 300 times. I googled it a few months back. I get the sense he wouldn't be as impressed as I was.

"Does everything about you have to change now that we have kids?"

"This is violent. I'm not gonna apologize for not wanting to watch it" My voice rising. We've had this same argument a dozen times since Deaglan was born.

Defeated and with a deep sigh he hands me the remote. "There's nothing else on. Look."

"Forget it. I'll use the computer. Can I at least have the recliner then?"

This is my entry for the Red Writing Hood prompt - ugly.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Blog tips resources and three new favourite blogs

I'm always looking for ways to improve the look and functionality of my blog. There are so many generous bloggers out there sharing their knowledge. These blogs have helped me on my ongoing journey to a better blog.

Sarah at Clover Lane
I love this blog. She's a stay-at-home-mom of five with so much heart. She inspires me all the time with her stories, tips and authenticity. She also introduced me to Picasa.

The Blog Guidebook is fabulous. You can get on their directory by doing a small post about them. They have excellent tutorials about how to do a blog banner, how to make a sidebar button, and so much more. They are also responsible for making me fall in love with Picnik. So much easier than photoshop and it's free!

I love this post about comments from Scary Mommy. She has some excellent tips for updating your blog in 2011.

Here are some of my favourite new blogs. These ladies don't know me from Adam (Eve?) but I am completely in awe of them. See what you think.

I got these ceramic flower candle holders for $2. each at Liquidation World. They are heavy. Aren't they fun for spring?

Enjoying the small things. Turn your volume down if you're at work. Kelle has music. And while most blogging guidelines will tell you that having music on your blog is taboo I think you'll agree that it works for her. I LOVE Kelle's honest, laid back take on life. Sit back and enjoy the beautiful photography of her girls.

Flowerpatch Farmgirl. Okay so Shannan does know I exist but probably only because I expressed my undying affection to her and she might have felt obligated to respond. She's an excellent writer mom of three adopted kids. If you have the time, read her series on adoption.  

The Nesting Place. I'm sure a lot of you know of the Nester. She's infamous!! I can't tell you how much she and her design blog inspire me.  Well after you visit her site you will likely feel the same.
This was Deaglan when he got up a few mornings ago. Shaune and I couldn't stop laughing to ourselves. Do you think he needs a haircut? We kept calling him Aunt Donna behind his back. (my Aunt Donna had this style for years when I was a kid).

That's all I have for now but don't forget to post your pictures on my facebook wall. I want to post them here every few weeks.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A love letter to a nine month

Dear Naveen,

I want you to stop growing. Seriously. You've reached perfection. It's selfish, I know, but I can not part with who you are right now.  I love that baby-robin you become; when I'm eating you put your mouth to mine while holding my ears as if to tweet - feed me.

And please, let it always be this easy to switch on your grin, that four-tooth grin, wattage enough to light up my insides. I promise to stop complaining that you're not a good sleeper. Ignore everything I've written about it. I'll stay awake if you'll always look at me like I'm the only one with the answers.

And that other thing, when you are just about to be nursed, you cry out in frenzy and frustration, like it just isn't fast enough for you; that, I love that.

Who do I make a deal with? Write the cheque to?

You are my waking chirping lark even when you've been up all night teething, your chubby warm hands on my face chanting da-da-da in the dark. I'm willing to give up all my shoes-no questions asked-for that knee bend and grunting in the morning, your way of letting Dad know you'd like some of what he's eating. I would go barefoot forever to make tangible that gaze you direct at your brother, like he's been your favourite comedian since time began.

I will surely weep the day you grow into those ears, when you stop smelling like heaven, when you don't fit snugly into the crook of my arms. I'm head-over-heels. Love -struck! But you should know, though he would never go on and on the way I do, your Dad is just as smitten. I see the way his eyes light up when you smile. Nonchalantly he asks me if I'd like a break from holding you but I know it's because he needs you close. I'm onto him.

So we beseech you, please, slow down.

Love Mom

Okay I thought more about it and if you felt you needed to start sleeping through the night, I could live with that.

Monday, 7 March 2011

No sugar here

This morning after showering, Shaune walked downstairs, shirt and tie on, coffee in hand and a look that told me he'd been waiting for just the right moment and said Hey, I don't mind drinking coffee without cream and sugar - it's kind of how I like my women - dark and bitter.

Before you think too much about this, you should know that we've both been trying to eat healthier. And also we have a non-sleeping nine-month old and a three-year old who has enough energy to run the Boston Marathon before 8am. And Shaune leaves for school every morning by eight and doesn't get home till almost ten at night from work.

Most days we're both on edge.

I laughed inspite of myself at his wise crack. I'll bet you're pretty pleased with yourself  I said shaking my head.

The thing is, it's been a tough year around here. Oh I know I need to get some perspective, look at how blessed we are and all that. But let me rant for a minute. It's been challenging. It took us to new strained places in our relationship. I'd like to tell you that we tested our marriage and were delighted to see that we had what it took to sail through this unscathed but it just wouldn't be true.

Somedays it got ugly. There was lots of bickering about the division of labour. Who was doing more around here, who was sacrificing this or that for our family - you know, that super mature stuff.

There were very tired days which made it almost impossible for us to sympathize with each other. Times where I knew I should have just let him off the hook at bath time and done it all myself because he had ten projects due. And times I'm sure he regretted rolling his eyes when I told him I hadn't slept a wink all night. And there were many hours spent silently because what we had to say to each other would have only made things worse. 

It hasn't been easy to be our best selves.

But there's an end in sight. This is the last week of classes and after that one month of practice teaching. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm proud of us. So very proud of him. I can see the implications for our children. Shaune's done a good thing here. Showed them by example that you can change your life for the better. That you can go back to school at any age.

And me, dark and bitter? Yeah, some days:)

Friday, 4 March 2011

My birth story?

The light from the moon shone on the water trickling down her leg. It was time. She'd known yesterday that this baby was ready to enter the world. Gently she pushed down on her belly; a faint movement.
Her head throbbed and stomach growled with emptiness. It had been the same for several weeks. She'd been forced to eat less, some days almost nothing. Her daughter could no longer get enough from her breasts. Cobu's portion of the little they ate each day was given to the three year old who was hungry almost constantly. Now that it was impossible for the child to subsist on the dwindling supply of breast milk, her husband seemed even angrier. He regularly slapped the girl for crying out in hunger. And she couldn't help but notice that he took even more onto his plate each night. She didn't dare protest but she'd begun to boil some of the scrub scattered in the courtyard and feed the girl the broth from the weeds to supplement her meagre diet.
 Cobu tried to shield the small girl but a proper Bengali wife never crossed her husband. She fingered the welts from the beatings he gave her in the first few months; they had bled and scarred over. She had shamed him.
 This time she was certain it would be a boy. The nausea was faint and her breasts weren't as tender. She prayed every night that god would hear her. Her husband had refused to welcome their daughter with a kiss as was tradition. Refused to mark her tiny forearm with black or light the fire to ward off evil spirits. In fact, Cobu could not recall a time when he had even held the child.

Hope urged her out of bed, quietly. Her mouth watered – she tried to taste the lingering odour of last night's bhaji (fish curry mixed with boiled rice). She'd allowed herself one bite before pushing her share to the hungry child who gobbled it down quick. It was a rare treat when her husband could bring home a bit of meat or fish for their meal.

Now the cramps started coming faster. She knew she would have to wake the old dai (midwife) soon. Shuffling out of the dank mud hut she could feel the monsoons coming. She was grateful that the baby would come before the rains. For this time, she was instructed to do her birthing behind the hut. Shivers traveled her spine at the thought of delivering another girl.
“Dai, it’s time.” She whispered, shaking the old woman gently. It didn’t take much to rouse her. Cobu waited in the courtyard while the midwife gathered a few things. To her delight the woman placed a lump of cold rice in her hands. She shoved it into her mouth savouring the sticky sweetness and swallowed with it the tears that threatened at such a kindness.

A sharp pain doubled her over. She needed to lie down. The two women hurried to the small pond to gather water. Cobu was required to wash the old woman’s feet as a sign of trust and dependence.

And so began the long labour.

I've joined the ladies at the Red Dress Club. This is a fictional piece written using the prompt water. I don't have any details surrounding my birth. But I imagine it might have gone something like this.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

My facebook friends

I was a facebook snob. I said things like I refuse to get a facebook account! And if I heard of someone else boycotting facebook, I raised a fist in solidarity and said good for you!

I can admit when I'm wrong.

Because let's face it, it's pretty fun. Stay-in-your-pyjamas-all-day-because-your-baby doesn't-sleep-but-still-have-contact-with-the-outside-world-kind of fun.

You may find yourself connecting with gals from high school, finding all new reasons to be friends. Tracy, Tina and I are all moms to boys. They read my blog and leave wistful comments like wish we had blogging technology when our boys were babies. Their sons are teenagers. Through them I can get a glimpse of my future. A positive glimpse - not the the loony-getting-carried-away-with-worry kind of images my mind is capable of. At 18 and 15, Tracy's boys still give her hugs and kisses before bed. Tina's boys are the same ages and she says she gets compliments all the time from teachers, neighbours and friends that her kids are polite and caring. Here's a picture of Tina's boys.

You get to see little monkies like this one (Tracy's nephew) win cute baby're not surprised he won are you?

And you get to marvel that you are reunited with your friends from Tucson. Especially when at the end of grade eight you were certain your world had ended because your family moved back to Sarnia, Ontario. You corresponded through letters but eventually lost touch. Letters!!
And through facebook you can't believe it but you slip into an easiness with each other as if 25 years hadn't passed since you last spoke!

It's good. Facebook.

Because while reading Robert Munsch's Down the Drain to your three-year old you might find yourself smoothing his hair back from his forehead.

And he might say what are you doing Mommy?

And you might say something like smoothing your hair honey - do you like it?

And without hesitation he might say no stop it.

Times like that it's nice to know you have some friends on facebook!

I want to post your pictures to my blog once a week! Tag me or post your shots to my wall and I'll include them. Only post pictures that belong to you please.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

You can call me Rohima

Sometimes Shaune calls Deaglan Stan or John James McGillicuddy just to get a reaction. Our boy is usually quite adamant that his name is Deaglan William McNamara. At three, his name is already integral to his self concept; who he feels he is.

In university I had a few friends who would only call me Rohima. It was a time of  intense scrutiny for me. Of who I was and who I wanted to be. Remember that time? Freedom from home. The feeling that you could rewrite the rules, that anything was possible. Back then I had a nose ring and only wore Doc Martens.

I seriously considered changing my name.
I didn't though. I had already been Kim for too long. Besides that it would have been a pain in the ass, I wasn't sure I could live up to it's exotic sounding ring. 

Rohima. It was who I was for the first seven years of my life. When I called Cobu mother and Esupe father. A time when I only knew god as Allah. A time when I owned no shoes in a place where the sun  burned hotter, where the ocean and the government posed a threat. And there was never enough to eat.

I was Rohima in a place where children starve. Where women bear the brunt but men have the power. Where to disagree with men and the government can get you killed. In this place I was Rohima.

No I didn't change my name.

But I do think about that seven year-old girl once in a while. New to Canada. No English on her lips.  A small girl who had lost so much of who she thought she was. Cobu, Esupe, Allah. How must she have felt when she was no longer called Rohima?  When they began to call her Kim, did she insist she was Rohima?

I'm pouring my heart out with Shell.