Saturday, 25 August 2012


Sometimes you don’t realize how much you’ve been missing a thing until it comes into your life.

You might not have even thought it was possible. But on some level you were unaware of, it’s unmistakable that it is exactly what you’ve been craving. And when it sneaks into your daily existence, like a stroke of good luck or an unexpected stretch of good weather, you wonder how you ever lived without it.

You can’t help but soak it in, bask in its gloriousness, even if it feels like a guilty pleasure.

It’s been like this for me recently. 

Oh how my tiny boys love me. But that’s not the unexpected part, although it delights me endlessly. No, it’s this:  at least a few times each day the two argue with each other about whose mommy I am. It usually starts with Naveen elbowing Deaglan out of his way, on route to my lap.

“My Mama!” he will announce, brows furrowed, small fists at the ready.

These are always fighting words for Deaglan who hadn’t even intended to battle for such property rights that moment.

“She’s my Mommy too, right Mommy?” he looks over at me, old enough to know better yet unable to ignore the heat such a bold statement gives rise to. Often it ends in me pulling one off of the other.

“Yes, I’m both of your Mommies. Come sit on either side of me.”

Sometimes having such full arms can seem like a nuisance. It’s hard to sip coffee before it cools. It means never having my own space on the recliner or couch. And in the very early mornings, it means sharing my pillow with two growing tousled heads, elbows and knees in my ribs.

But more often it feels like I’ve arrived.

As one of seven children, I never had much expectation of such affection. I was quiet and in my head most of the time growing up. This all feels like an embarrassment of riches; a boon that will inevitably vanish back into the heavens from which it came.  

So I'm doing what any lottery winner would do; grinning from ear to ear like some lucky jerk at my fortune.

 We drove to a small town outside of our city to this park just for a change of pace. We rode on this train, which in truth is one step up from a child's model train. 

See what I mean?

Saturday, 18 August 2012

On four years

It was our wedding anniversary yesterday.

Shaune said, “Really, only four years?” I knew what he meant. It’s a lot of work we’ve been doing only to be at year four. In reality it’s been the better part of 20 years.

We never even talked about getting married till after Deaglan came. It wasn’t something we’d been dreaming of. But there was a point where it felt odd introducing people to my son and boyfriend. Modern day feminists will likely cringe but I wanted my life to seem more “legitimate”.

It’s not what you’re supposed to say, I know.

I should probably tell you that Shaune was the answer to all of my prayers. He was the perfect fit – the one I’d been waiting for all my livelong days. But we try to keep it real around here.

And if you're Deaglan, casual.

Naveen just recently acquired an appreciation for the swing. For about three seconds I was thrilled to see him growing this way. I got over it though. Once you agree to put him on one, you are imprisoned by his constant demand to “push me wayhighup into the sky mama.”

I put my thinking cap on this week because I wanted to honour our relationship in an authentic way. I didn’t want to sicken you with – “my life is so perfect” or “we are living out our flawless marriage.” Not because I’m trying to make a point or be controversial. But because I know Shaune will read this too and he expects more than that from me.

We had backward day by the way. 

I stole the idea from my friend Crystal. It’s where you let your kids have dessert before dinner. When she told me about it a few years ago I promised to implement it when our kids were old enough. In truth, we might have started tonight so we could finish our drinks before dinner.

 Or kill two birds with one stone and get Naveen off the bloody swing.

It wasn't too hard to think of some of the things I'm grateful for in Shaune. 

He's a terrific father. The boys couldn't ask for a more fun, tolerant, gentle and hilarious Dad. And this weekend he finished our main level floors. Since he's been on a hiatus from teaching, he ripped up all the mismatched laminate and carpet; replaced them with a dark stained laminate. He also replaced baseboards, added trim to our archways and plans to paint any outstanding windows and doors to match. Once he starts a project, he finishes it. I'm grateful for that.  

He also tells me I'm beautiful even on my most vulnerable days. 

It’s all we did though. The martinis I mean. There was no expensive dinner out, no weekend getaway. Shaune made a lovely chicken stir fry over rice and we ate it while we took turns pushing the kids on the swing. Happy Anniversary Shaune.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


We were vacationing last week. 

First we went to Manitoulin Island for a few days – met up with Shaune’s folks, sister and her family - and then hung around home for the last few days. The kids had a blast. They got to spend good chunks of time with their grandparents, which in their books is the same as winning the lottery, and when we were home the remainder of the week, we slept in and went to the park two times each day.

It filled me up to spend whole days with those boys of mine.

It always takes me a while to unwind from work and when I finally did this time, I realized how much Naveen has grown. His sweet little personality is in full blossom. This boy who was tucked snug in my belly only two short years ago is now cracking jokes. Here’s his version of one:

Naveen (with a teasing glint in his eyes): Mama, me want a toe-toe.

Me (acting surprised): A toe-toe? Okay, here you go. (Handing him something imaginary which he then eats. He then waits for my reaction.)

Me: Ewwww, I can’t believe you ate a toe-toe!

Naveen: (Laughs hysterically)

I also noticed changes in Deaglan. 

In early January during a game of checkers he told me that sometimes at school he felt like a “piece of junk”. I remember exactly how it made me feel to hear my four year old say that – like someone had surprise punched me in the stomach.

“Why????” I cried.

“Because sometimes Adam doesn’t want to play with me.”

“When doesn’t he want to play with you honey?”

“When I’m being shy. When I’m being shy, he plays with Jabon.”

“Oh.” I said, understanding. 

I’d never realized that his shyness was bothering him. We’d begun to notice that in social situations with other kids, Deaglan was very shy. It took him all day to warm up to the kids at school, not because he didn't want to play, but because he didn't know how to enter into the situation. By the end of the day, he was usually fully engaged with his friends, playing normally. So we dismissed our concerns. After all, both Shaune and I had been very shy kids.

Shaune still is but the restaurant business beat it out of me, I swear. 

We talked a little more about it during the rest of our checkers game that night, came up with some solutions for the next time he might feel shy but didn’t want to lose out on playing with his friend.  And I Googled it later. I wanted to know how to help him. I found some awesome stuff

Without overwhelming him we began to slowly nudge him toward breaking out of his shyness when he could. We told him what to say if he was in a new situation where he wanted to join in on the fun. And we praised him when he made any efforts to make friends. 

It felt counterintuitive to me.  Normally I wouldn’t have wanted to make an issue of it, give him reason to think there was anything wrong with being shy. But that evening playing checkers, hearing how much it was bothering him, well it just about undid me.

This last week I noticed how far he’s come. While he doesn’t run over and join in the games right away, he does make himself available with eye contact, sometimes holding up a toy he wants to share. He still acts awkward at times, makes odd faces because he's not sure how to be. At these times I want to squeeze him to me, give him a voice, say the things I know he wants to.

But he's trying all the time and this makes Shaune and me smile because we see that he understands he needs to help himself.

Here are some pictures from last week. We mostly forgot to bring the camera with us on our outings. 

 Deaglan helped drive Gramma and Grampa's boat.

 On the last day, on the last boat ride just as we were docking, Naveen mumbled to me that he'd like to drive the boat too. I told Grampa this and he promised that next year he could.
 Cousin Layton will be old enough by then to help drive too. 
Try to imagine me shouting from the sidelines "Deaglan, slow down, he's too little to go that fast!"

Saturday, 4 August 2012


I told Shaune when we were trying for a second child that if we had a boy I wanted to name him Naveen. I’d been trying on other Indian-sounding names but kept coming back to it. I liked Tariq and Arun but Shaune did not. We both liked Kalpen for a few months but I tired of it.

When he suggested we name our first son Deaglan William – I didn’t argue but was acutely aware of how Caucasian it sounded, not reflecting my contribution to his DNA one bit. I loved the name. It had always brought to mind handsome men with British accents – Declan Mulqueen in The Jackal, Declan Gormley in Mission Impossible.  When Shaune suggested it, I knew it was perfect and imagined a time when our son was in his late teens, early twenties, young women swooning over him and whispering things to each other like – “He’s so gorgeous and that name is just perfect.”


Don’t tell me that surprises you – I’m his mother, I can’t help it.

In Bangladesh I had three sisters. It would have been nice to honour their names if we’d given birth to any girls. I don’t remember my uncles’ names – my birth mother had many brothers. I have no recollection of any of the little boys we played with in the orphanage. And most of the men I’ve known in my life here have been locally raised with names like Mike or John, Chris.

Naturally I looked to Bollywood.

I became smitten with Balraj in Bride and Prejudice back in 2004 – the Bollywood version of the Jane Austen novel. He was handsome, exotic and to my delight had an English accent. And when I learned that his name was Naveen Andrews I instantly liked the name and tucked it into my back pocket.

Years later I learned that it meant “new”.

Shaune hemmed and hawed with the name during my pregnancy. Sometimes he thought he liked it and at other times he thought the v in the middle gave it a harsh-sounding quality. By then we knew we were having another boy. I’d already begun referring to him in my mind as Naveen.

Naveen came out of my body with dark brown skin and enormous ears. He had Mongolian scars on his bottom, feet and arms and looked nothing like anyone we knew. In the first few months Shaune often joked about it. One time he came home and said he saw someone who looked exactly like our new baby. Excited I asked him to describe the child. “Well he was about 80, definitely Indian, short with a round belly and was wearing a lungi (he didn’t say lungi but described the dress of rural Indian men so that's what I  assumed he meant).” 

Very funny I thought but had to smile because I did wonder if somewhere in a small village of rural Bangladesh sat an old toothless man with cocoa skin and giant ears – a long lost relative of mine who’s face Naveen had inherited.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Just beyond my reach

Every once in a while I have the sinking feeling one of my parents will burst through the door and veto something I’ve decided about my life. At the least they’ll tell me to get up off the couch and fold some laundry.  

In my mind I’m still fourteen.

Every few weeks I dream that I’ve forgotten about one of my tables: after I took their dinner order, I never went back to make sure they got their meals. Dread and anxiety overtake me until I wake up and realize to my enormous relief that I am no longer a server in a restaurant.

In my dreams I might always be a waitress.

I often dream of life at 744 Manor Park Crescent, my childhood home. Not because it was a particularly happy place but even when the people of my present day are involved in the goings on, the setting is almost always that house.

In my dreams I still live there. 

And even as recently as this afternoon when Shaune called me at work to let me know we’d be having sliders for dinner, then handed the phone to Deaglan, I pictured Matthew’s face the entire time I talked to my four year old. They have the same voice.

A few weeks ago when the cook at Naveen’s daycare was saying his goodbyes because he was moving back to his hometown, we realized that we were both from Sarnia. In fact we’d both gone to the same high school only he was several years younger than me. We began rhyming off our siblings’ names in an effort to find a connection and he stopped me at Matthew. They’d known each other.  

I froze. 

It was apparent that he’d not heard the news. It hurt to tell him that Matt was gone. I hated admitting it. Similarly in a recent conversation with an acquaintance at work about the cost of living in Toronto, I  had to swallow a lump in my throat. My instinct to compare her experiences with Matthew’ s was overwhelming but I stopped myself for  fear of having to tell her that he no longer lived there.

In my heart he’s still around here somewhere.