Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Things I wrote while the internet was down

This is the longest blog break I've taken in my almost five years writing in this space. At first I was just busy. School was ending for Shaune and Deaglan. Nursing was scheduled to end for Naveen. And we were looking forward to a vacation. But then when I did finally have a little time to write, the internet was down. And then the vacation was over and I needed to go back to work and get Deaglan warmed up to the idea of summer camp. I thought I'd just publish the few posts I wrote during that busy time to catch you up on where my head's been at.

I wrote this one two weeks ago when school was almost out:

I feel sad when things end. Anxious when something new has to begin. It’s the way I’ve always been. 

All week long Deaglan has peppered me with questions:
Why can’t I go to school anymore?
Will I be in the same class next year?
Why do I have to go to a different school in the summer?
Why can’t my friends go too?

It’s a small ending. One that is regulated and out of my hands yet I feel gloomy and helpless. I mourned deeply every school year-end, especially in my younger years. I cried and vowed to write to my teachers every week. Very Anne Shirley I know; change has never failed to rock me to the core.

The mild irritation we’ve felt this year with Deaglan’s teachers and the school in general, well he’s felt none of it. He’s lived blissfully unaware; been madly in love with school, his friends and his teachers. He has sometimes dragged his feet on a Monday morning but by the end of the day when I’ve gone to get him he can’t bear to leave.

And there is this other ending.

I thought I was done writing about breastfeeding but it turns out I’m not.  I hesitated though; imagined you rolling your eyes, saying not again with this! But then realized the beauty of this space, my space to share with you what is important to me. I write about motherly things – you know that. I write about them again and again. I tell you about what makes me happy. I tell you why I get sad. I mostly write about how it has felt to be a mother to these two boys.

So I pushed my hesitation aside to talk about it again.

Because today is the third day that I have not nursed Naveen and I am mixed-emotions. I’ve been weepy and elated all at the same time. Sad that it has to end but exhilarated at the thought of resuming once again, sole proprietorship of this body.

And yesterday was hard.

At daycare drop-off, Naveen was sad. Not throwing a tantrum-sad. Not wanting something he could not have-sad. But achy-break-my-heart-sad.  I watched him in the rear-view mirror, softly crying. I guessed that he was grieving; missing something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He wasn’t interested in the landmarks I pointed out, the ones I always point out on our drive downtown, things that usually had him interested and engaged.

When change is inevitable, I steady myself by keeping everything else as normal as possible. I go to the gym. I show up for work. I clean the kitchen. I isolate the thing that must change. It helps me remember that everything else won’t be different, just that one thing.  I talk to myself gently, think of other times when change came and I survived.

I know why I’m like this.  It stems from those first years when I had no say or control over all the big endings: Leaving my Bangladesh family to live in an orphanage. Coming to Canada.  Losing my brother. So that any change sends me into a panic. Even if the current state has been dissatisfying I still dread the new.

I’ve learned though, that I don’t need to deny these parts of me. These flawed, undesirable parts, the opposite of go-with-the-flow and easy going. I’ve realized that I don’t have to take 12 steps to change it.  I already know all the right answers: I'll be fine. The kids will be fine. I just need to write it down. And live through it.

Well I have to tell you, Naveen has done splendidly! He asks me for the breast about once a day in a sweet inquiring voice and a tilt of the head: Mama, Milky da-da? Once I tell him it's all gone, he usually moves on. The best part? He's become more generous in doling out kisses and hugs. To my unending delight, he often comes to wherever I am and asks if we can cuddle.

And Deaglan is doing just fine with the ending of school, which means I'm doing just fine too.

I wrote this one last week sometime and didn't finish it when I realized the internet was down:

We’ve been vacationing.

Like you couldn’t tell.

Nothing exotic or tropical; a few days at a friend’s cottage; a day trip or two. Being with the kids all day everyday for more than just a weekend heals me. I really do feel that it does. At the same time though, it is exercise. Skills that don’t see the light of day most week days, well they are forced out of hiding, to face the music.

Patience. Play. Listening.

It’s an odd thing to work and be away from your children for so long each day. These little people who make your life worth living, give you a real sense of purpose, a reason to work harder and better. A sense that you belong somewhere, to someone.

In each phase of my life I’ve searched for that belonging.

In my middle school years in Tucson Arizona, I had a group of friends who I adored and who really loved me. We spent all of our free time together in front of Frank Vogel’s house on Bellevue Street. We talked, listened to music on a ghetto blaster, made trips to the Circle K for Jolly Ranchers when we had the cash, and rode our bikes through the desert streets.

I felt that kind of belonging. To a place. To people – a hand-full of tweens and early teens. I don’t think we were the popular kids; we didn’t go to the same schools, we weren’t the same ages. We weren’t rebels. We were just kids hanging out after our chores were done.

In high school my heart belonged to my sister Tara’s new baby. I spent most weekends with them and together we exalted every new phase, tiny step and mispronounced word.  A teeny version of us, this baby girl stitched us together in this lonely place where we had never seemed to fit in. We finally had another, no longer just the two of us without authority.

In my university years I studied enough to get by. I drank a lot of cheap wine and draft beer and staggered home when I’d run out of money. I worked hard to keep my growing anxiety at bay and find a dream that matched my parents’ expectations of me.

I didn’t realize for a long time how unrealistic that was.

And even when I met Shaune, I still didn’t know how much work I would need to do to get here. Here, where little boys steal the olives out of your salad every time, demand cookies for breakfast and rule your heart with their shiny chocolate eyes. Where a husband tries to distract a four-year old during the racier parts because you’ve wondered out loud if it’s a good idea that the kids watch Law & Order SVU. Where making a case for a few minutes alone is necessary to keep your sanity. 

Other things of note:
  • I don't know when it started but Shaune, mostly to entertain himself, responds to most of Deaglan's requests for something he needs (ie a drink of water, a show on TV, a cookie, ice cream etc) by saying "Water (insert item) is for suckas." Tonight when Naveen asked for meatballs (we had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner), Shaune said his usual (imagine me rolling my eyes). However, Naveen responded with "Meatbaws are for Kool Dudes, Daddy."
  • At First Choice on the weekend, Naveen was crying as if he was being tortured so that the stylist couldn't even finish his haircut. He now has very short hair on top and uneven shaggy whispy pieces at the sides and back. When one of the less irritated customers looked at me sympathetically and asked, First haircut? I swallowed the desire to lie and truthfully admitted, Nope, fifth.
  • A few times last week after school had ended, a little boy who lives on the street behind us, who is a year older than Deaglan came over unannounced accompanied by his older brother and knocked on our door. "Gryphon, my brother, would like to play with Deaglan," announced his eight year old brother Sloan without the slightest hint of nervousness or stammering. Although in the past I'd smiled at their mother on walks in the neighbourhood, there had never been any discussion about getting our kids together. It reminded me of my own childhood when "calling on" someone is what you did. I loved it and so did my Deaglan.

I'm hoping to get back to writing here with some regularity. Here are some pictures from the last while.

 Shannon and Taylor - our friends who invited us to stay at their "cottage". When we arrived Deaglan asked us why we were at a mansion.
 We celebrated Taylor's 2nd birthday at the cottage.
 Nothing tickles this boy's fancy like something chocalatey.

 Deaglan came up with the design of Taylor's birthday cake - some licorice, M&M's and fuzzy peaches and did the decorating himself.
 We spent a good deal of time at the beach on our week off. 
The last day of school.


  1. Kim,
    It's great to hear from you. Sounds like you've been having a wonderful time with family recently. I'm happy to hear that the school year ended well for your big boy. Also glad to hear breastfeeding is going well. Beautiful photos of your family, as always. Wishing you continued blessings as you navigate motherhood, wifehood, and life. Much love! xxO

  2. I am so glad you are back, and that life has been going good. Don't feel bad about the haircut, mine still cries and wails hysterically and we've been cutting his hair for nearly 2 years now.

  3. Good to see you back. Change isn't always easy for me either. And weaning was definitely bittersweet, especially with the twins.

  4. I was wondering where you'd been at! Glad to see you back. I can totally identify with not handling change well. I had too many moves, school changes and uprooting when I was a child so I'm pretty sure it stems from that. I always thought I handled it well...turns out I do not...and it seems to be getting worse as I get older. Or maybe I'm just more aware of how I deal with it (which is not well - not even when I get a new fridge). Sounds like you're enjoying your summer with your boys. That's all that matters.

  5. Great updates all around. Glad you continued to write. As I imagine Anne Shirley would, too. I appreciated your reference.

    We used to have to warn the neighbors in advance that T Rex was getting his hair cut - he would cry so loud and sob loudly, "Stop, stop, please, your hurting me." I was worried someone would think we were torturing him. 3 years later he actually looks forward to getting his hair cut.

    The cottage sounds lovely and even better spending time with friends.

  6. Your boys are getting so big. I know what you mean about the end of nursing...totally bittersweet. Glad he's handling it well.

  7. It's good to get caught up with you too, my friend! :)

  8. Lots of transitions.

    I found it more emotional to wean my second baby, I guess knowing that ws it for me. With my first, it was done in order to get ready to get pregnant again, so there was a good side to it.

  9. Kim this is one of my most favorite things you wrote...
    "It’s an odd thing to work and be away from your children for so long each day. These little people who make your life worth living, give you a real sense of purpose, a reason to work harder and better. A sense that you belong somewhere, to someone."
    lov Shan

  10. I love that picture of Naveen devouring that cake! And I really enjoy reading what you're up to. I often feel the way you do about being a misfit sometimes, yet finding small ways to really fit in and belong.


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